English Literature » Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

Biography

Edmund Spenser was born in London in the year 1552 or 1553. Little is known about his family or his childhood, except that he received a scholarship to attend the Merchant Taylor School, where he likely studied Latin and Greek. He went on to study literature and religion at Cambridge University’s Pembroke Hall, receiving a BA in 1573 and an MA in 1576.

Spenser published his first volume of poetry, The Shepheardes Calender (Hugh Singleton), in 1579, dedicating it to the poet Sir Philip Sidney. He was also the author of The Faerie Queene (William Ponsonby, 1596), a major English epic, and Amoretti and Epithalamion (William Ponsonby, 1595), a sonnet sequence dedicated to his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle.

Alongside his poetry, Spenser pursued a career in politics, serving as a secretary first for the Bishop of Rochester and then for the Earl of Leicester, who introduced him to other poets and artists in Queen Elizabeth’s court. In 1580, he was appointed secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland; later, in 1596, he wrote an inflammatory pamphlet called A View of the Present State of Ireland (James Ware, 1633).

In 1598, during the Nine Years War, Spenser was driven from his home in Ireland. He died in London in 1599 and was buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Poems by Edmund Spenser

  1. [‘Joy of my life, full oft for loving you’]
  2. Amoretti I: Happy ye leaves when as those lilly hands
  3. Amoretti III: The Sovereign Beauty
  4. Amoretti IV: “New yeare forth looking out of Janus gate”
  5. Amoretti LIV: Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay
  6. Amoretti LV: So oft as I her beauty do behold
  7. Amoretti LXII: “The weary yeare his race now having run”
  8. Amoretti LXVII: Like as a Huntsman Related Poem Content Details
  9. Amoretti LXVIII: Most Glorious Lord of Life
  10. Amoretti LXX: Fresh spring the herald of loves mighty king
  11. Amoretti LXXI: I joy to see how in your drawen work
  12. Amoretti LXXIV: Most Happy Letters
  13. Amoretti LXXIX: Men Call you Fair
  14. Amoretti LXXV: One Day I Wrote her Name
  15. Amoretti LXXXI: Fayre is my love, when her fayre golden heares
  16. Amoretti LXXXIX: Lyke as the Culver on the barèd bough
  17. Amoretti VIII: More then most faire, full of the living fire
  18. Amoretti XIII: “In that proud port, which her so goodly graceth”
  19. Amoretti XV: Ye tradefull Merchants that with weary toyle
  20. Amoretti XXII: This Holy Season
  21. Amoretti XXIII: Penelope for her Ulisses sake
  22. Amoretti XXX: My Love is like to ice, and I to fire
  23. An Hymn In Honour Of Beauty
  24. An Hymn Of Heavenly Beauty
  25. Epithalamion
  26. from The Faerie Queene: Book I, Canto I
  27. from The Shepheardes Calender: April
  28. from The Shepheardes Calender: October
  29. Iambicum Trimetrum
  30. Prosopopoia: or Mother Hubbard’s Tale
  31. Prothalamion
  32. The Shepheardes Calender: January