Epithalamion is an ode written by Edmund Spenser as a gift to his bride, Elizabeth Boyle, on their wedding day. The poem moves through the couples' wedding day, from the groom's impatient hours before dawn to the late hours of night after the husband and wife have consummated their marriage. Spenser is very methodical in his depiction of time as it passes, both in the accurate chronological sense and in the subjective sense of time as felt by those waiting in anticipation or fear. As with most classically-inspired works, this ode begins with an invocation to the Muses to help the groom; however, in this case they are to help him awaken his bride, not create his poetic work. Then follows a growing procession of figures who attempt to bestir the bride from her bed.
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Epithalamion , marriage ode by Edmund Spenser , originally published with his sonnet sequence Amoretti in Taken as a whole, the group of poems is unique among Renaissance sonnet sequences in recording a successful love affair culminating in marriage. The stanza poem begins with the predawn invocation of the Muses and follows the events of the wedding day.
The speaker, reflecting on the private moments of the bride and groom, concludes with a prayer for the fruitfulness of the marriage. The mood of the poem is hopeful, thankful, and very sunny. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.
Home Literature Poetry. See Article History. Britannica Quiz. Who wrote The Divine Comedy? Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. This group of poems is unique among Renaissance sonnet sequences in that it celebrates a successful love affair culminating in….
Edmund Spenser , English poet whose long allegorical poem The Faerie Queene is one of the greatest in the English language. It was written in what came to be called the Spenserian stanza. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox!
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This form continued in popularity through the history of the classical world; the Roman poet Catullus wrote a famous epithalamium, which was translated from or at least inspired by a now-lost work of Sappho. According to Origen , the Song of Songs might be an epithalamium on the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh's daughter. It was originally among the Greeks a song in praise of bride and bridegroom, sung by a number of boys and girls at the door of the nuptial chamber. According to the scholiast on Theocritus , one form was employed at night, and another, to rouse the bride and bridegroom on the following morning. In either case, as was natural, the main burden of the song consisted of invocations of blessing and predictions of happiness, interrupted from time to time by the ancient chorus of Hymen o Hymenaee. Among the Romans a similar custom was in vogue, but the song was sung by girls only, after the marriage guests had gone, and it contained much more of what modern attitudes would identify as obscene. In the hands of the poets the epithalamium was developed into a special literary form, and received considerable cultivation.
Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion Summary and Analysis of Epithalamion Stanzas 1 through 12
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