Colonial Poetics in Spenser’s Amoretti
Although until recently most early modern English poetry has been read as inhabiting a world apart from poets’ colonial ambitions, for a long time critics have read Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene in relation to his personal career in Ireland. Recently Spenser’s colonial ambitions and his colonial texts have attracted substantial critical attention. Spenser was a prominent colonist as well as the major epic poet of the late sixteenth century, and at the end of the twentieth century, The Faerie Queene can hardly be read without some mention of Spenser’s Irish career. However, the critical inattention to colonial issues in Spenser’s other poetry demonstrates the power of the belief that English literature and England’s colonial expansion are essentially unrelated. This chapter argues that the poetry that has been seen as Spenser’s most personal, his little love poems, the Amoretti, is as deeply imbricated in his colonial career as his public epic poetry. Indeed, it is precisely the Amoretti’s personal vision that links these poems to Spenser’s colonial desires, desires which were clearly at the heart of his life and his ambitions. I argue in this chapter that the realm of Spenser’s writing that has been most clearly cordoned off from Spenser the planter and colonist is implicated in a colonial fashioning of both Ireland and the planter’s personae.
KeywordsColonial Transformation English Settler Single Combat Colonial Encounter Love Poem
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