Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I had a (nerdy) dream...

I had a dream the other day that I was analyzing one of Spenser’s sonnets in the Amoretti. No, really… I did.

In this dream I was a couple lines into the poem when it suddenly became very clear to me that Spenser had written this sonnet with me in mind. Somehow, though the speaker of the sonnet was clearly male, the poet had foreseen my character flaws that would arise five hundred years later, and he embedded his advice within his sonnet sequence. My analysis of the sonnet suddenly became crucial.

At the beginning of this sonnet, the speaker sounded like the obsessively infatuated speaker in Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella (I promise… I really did think that in my dream). Yet I observed, in this dream, that Spenser used the nuances of the Spenserian rhyme scheme (ABABBCBCCDCDEE) to slowly transform the obsession into redemption. Just as each quatrain is embedded in the previous one and embeds itself into the following, Spenser demonstrated that the self-serving infatuation allowed the speaker to understand qualities of God that eventually served to convict the speaker of sin in a way that embraced redemption within the conviction. Sin was not destroyed; it was actually transformed into its own sanctification.

Unfortunately, the dream did not reveal which one of Spenser’s 89 sonnets I had been analyzing. Until I find it, I thought I may as well try to write it out. Spenser’s was much better, if I remember correctly from the dream.

I never saw myself so fair until
I saw it mirror’d in thy eyes of grace,
And then I yearned to drink my parchéd fill
Of gentle dignity that lin’d thy face.
For thou can’st grin thy joy into a place
Like he who brings to being with “Let be.”
Thou findest and forgiv’st in equal space
Like sandy scribbling to adultery.
Would he that crafted soft magnamity
Look gently on one smitten with a stone,
As when he smelted out idolatry
Since he had claimed the sinner as his own?
Then may my wandering retrieve and tie,
And may my very sin yet sanctify.

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