Sonnet 34 by Edmund Spenser

Sonnet 34, which is included in a collection of poems known as “Amoretti” by Edmund Spenser, was published in 1595. Throughout this poem the speaker expresses feelings of depression and anguish because of the loss of his beloved. However, he is not pessimistic at all since he knows that his love for her will bring him joy once more. This poem is a Spenserian sonnet which is composed of three quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme pattern is abab bcbc cdcd ee written in iambic pentameter.

The mood of this sonnet is a sad one, full of confusion and despair.

Yet, at the end, the speaker foresees a bright time to come. The whole poem is an extended simile as the speaker makes a comparison between a ship and his own life. In line Lyke as a ship, that through the ocean wyde there is a clear example of simile marked out by a specific word of likening. In line Whenas a storm hath dimed her trusty guyde there is an instance of metaphor in whenas a storm, he compares a storm with his own difficult situation.

In trusty guyde, he implicitly suggests that the light of a star leads him like a light at the end of the tunnel.

In line So I, whose star, that wont with her bright ray Me to direct there is an instance of run-on line in order to complete the meaning of the previous sentence. In addition, there is an example of hyperbaton in which the speaker changes the order of words to follow the rhyme pattern.

Personification of star is also presented in this line in with her bright ray. In line Yet hope I well that, when this storme is past there is a case of hyperbaton in which the speaker alters the order of words to introduce a contrast singled out by yet meaning despite the fact.

Regarding sound, alliteration is triggered by the words darknesse and dismay, perils and plast in which the sounds /d/ and /p/ are repeated and carry negative connotation. The words Helice, lodestar, life, look, lovely light, clear and cloudy, in which the /l/ sound is repeated, suggest a feeling of lightness and hope. In the couplet, the idea of hope is presented by the words Till then meaning that when the storm is past he will finally get over. In this poem the author makes a special use of words to reinforce the tone of vulnerability and insecurity.

Words such as storm, out of course, darknesse, dismay, perils, hidden, grief cloudy, dimmed, sorrow, astray and pensivenesse connote a negative meaning and contribute to complete the idea of sadness. At the same time, words like light, star, bright ray, hope, guyde, lodestar, shine and cleare are positive in meaning and are used to contrast with the negative words stated previously. They convey the sense of optimism and perseverance by believing that his star will shine again and give him the lovely light.

There is repetition of the word wander and the speaker uses synonyms such as astray and out of course to emphasize the state of being without direction and confused. In a lovely way, Spenser describes the sentiments of a broken heart through words cleverly chosen. The author makes use of meaningful lexicon to complement with the tone of the sonnet which makes the reader feel identified with universal themes like affection, misery and hope. In our opinion, we greatly enjoyed the poem since Spenser succeeded in conveying his ideas and the message was clearly exposed.