Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion

Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion Spenser and Ireland

Edmund Spenser was sent by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland. There he was to hold land on behalf of England. At that time, Ireland in general considered the English no better than an occupying power, and treated them as such even to the point of violence. Spenser himself wrote a treatise, A View of the Present State of Ireland, which was never widely published until after the author's death. In this pamphlet, Spenser advocated the destruction of Irish language and culture, and he went so far as to argue that violence would be acceptable, if it ever became necessary.

Spenser, a Protestant, was strongly opposed to the traditionally Roman Catholic Irish culture. This religious and political stance, coupled with Ireland's own attitudes toward Spenser's beloved Queen Elizabeth, served to make Spenser one of the Irish people's greatest critics. Paradoxically, Spenser clearly loved the Irish landscape. It was in Ireland that he met the woman who would become his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle. The Irish countryside is the setting for his wedding in Epithamalion and in real life. His poetic passages describing the land, weather, flora and fauna of Ireland read like a love poem dedicated to a place as much as they were dedicated to a woman.

Spenser was eventually driven from Ireland by native Irish militants and his castle at Kilcolmen burned to the ground. He fled back to London and died there a year later.