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"The reader was to seek in the sonnet not what the poet felt but what he himself felt." (C.S Lewis). Examine the themes of love and/or mortality and/or faith in the sonnets you have studied, and by reference to two or three.

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Introduction

"The reader was to seek in the sonnet not what the poet felt but what he himself felt." (C.S Lewis). Examine the themes of love and/or mortality and/or faith in the sonnets you have studied, and by reference to two or three, show how the poets have made you react to these themes. In the sonnet 'One day I wrote her name upon the strand' Spenser presents the theme of mortality by referring to his own personal situation. The structure of the sonnet (three quatrains and a couplet) is effective as it gives flexibility and has enabled Spenser to tell a complex poetic 'story'. The chained linkage of the quatrains allows them to evolve logically from one another. For example, in the first quatrain the speaker gives a description of the action of the waves washing the words away and in the second and third quatrains there is conversation with the addressee's response and the speaker's reply to her. The first line of the poem "One day I wrote her name upon the strand" will be a common action to some readers as it is a celebration of love and a relationship. Spenser uses repetition in the first quatrain "But came the waves and washed it away", "But came the tide..." ...read more.

Middle

The sonnet 'Remember' by Christina Rossetti is also exploring the theme of mortality, however unlike in 'One day I wrote her name upon the strand' where the speaker is trying to immortalise his love, the speaker herself is asking to be remembered when she dies. In the octave the reader is given the impression that the speaker is pleading for remembrance however, the sonnet is structured so that in the sestet which follows there is a change of argument and a tone of ambiguity. The use of the word "Yet" at the start of the sestet is effective in that it emphasises that this is the turning point in the sonnet where the speaker suggests that if remembering will create feelings of devastation ( shown by the darker imagery " darkness and corruption") then it will be beneficial for the lover to "forget and smile". This is an apparent contradiction of the title of the poem which is effective because it draws to light what many readers may feel about mortality: that they want to be remembered even after their death but not if this will bring unhappiness to loved ones. It is unusual for the poet to place a rhyming couplet in the middle of the sestet "And afterwards remember, do not grieve:/for if the darkness and corruption leave". ...read more.

Conclusion

However, on further readings of the sonnet it is possible that they will sympathize with some of the emotions expressed by the speaker, for example, the feeling of desperation to unite with God and break away from sinfulness which is common to everyday life. I felt that although this sonnet could be regarded as a 'holy' one it is not just religious people who will react to the theme of faith in the sonnet. When reading the poem some readers may link their longing to become a 'better person' to the speaker's desperation to be at ease with himself and have God as part of his life. It is clear that poets such as Edmund Spenser have not simply written sonnets for their own entertainment and well being but for the enjoyment of readers. The situations and experiences which the poets express in their sonnets are often dilemmas or real events which occur in people's lives in the present day. The effectiveness of these 'miniatures' which are compact yet highly emotive is that they invoke similar feelings in the reader regardless of which century they are read in. For example, sonnets which draw together themes of mortality have made readers remember their own feelings of themselves wanting to last forever or their relationship with a loved one. ...read more.

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