ENGLISH 211 EDMUND SPENSER QUESTIONS
Assigned: "Epithalamion" (Norton Vol. B, 990-99).
"Epithalamion" (Wedding Song -- a Classical Genre)
1. Sketch the structure of "Epithalamion" as suggested in the editors' note. What thematic movements can you connect with this intricately wrought structure?
1 introductory stanza
10 stanzas as pre-wedding unit (3-4-3 subunits)
2 Wedding Stanzas: the ceremony proper
10 stanzas as post-wedding unit (3-4-3 subunits)
1 brief concluding stanza, for a total of 24 stanzas
2. Why is this wedding song, "Epithalamion," set in the woods? How does the forest prove significant with regard to the poet's task and his hopes and duties as a lover? Consider, for example, each stanza's varied final-line references to the echoing of sounds through the forest: why is the echoing important for more than mere physical description?
3. In "Epithalamion," with what qualities does the poet invest his bride to be? We never hear her voice in this poem -- how does that affect your view of her?
4. How do the two middle stanzas of "Epithalamion" (beginning "Open the temple gates unto my love...") stand out from the surrounding stanzas? How, that is, do they render the wedding ceremony special?
5. After the ceremony, the narrative of "Epithalamion" moves on towards night. With what qualities does the poet invest night -- what kinds of night does he refer to?
6. "Epithalamion" ends on a traditional note about the memorializing power of verse. How has the poem both invited the passage of time and resisted it?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen and Carol T. Christ. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th. edition. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C. Paperback. Norton: 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0393913002.