The Faerie Queene

A Writer and His Creation: Double Meanings in Spenser’s Amoretti College

Though he is by no means a single-minded man, Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti focus largely on the beauty and physical form of the woman he addresses these poems to. In seven of these sonnets, he calls this woman’s beauty her “hew”, or in the modern spelling, “hue”; each time ‘hew’ is used, it is paired with a defining adjective. Examining alternative definitions of ‘hue’ within the Amoretti sheds light on Spenser’s meaning within these stanzas, and explores further the complicated philosophical relationship Spenser has with the act of creation and writing: a relationship central to the narration of his Faerie Queene.

In Sonnet III, the line reads: “but looking still on her I stand amazed, / at wondrous sight of so celestiall hew” (389). Sonnet seven lists it as a “louely hew”, and sonnet seventy-four as a “glorious hew”, with these three defining words repeated among the remaining four instances. Though in the poem it quickly becomes clear that Spenser is referring to his lady’s “hue”, because it is spelled like “hew” the reader may be momentarily confused. Our definition of “hew” is to...

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