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Cycles and the Microcosm in Spenser’s Epithalamion and the Mutability Cantos Cycles and the Microcosm in Spenser’s Epithalamion and the Mutability Cantos

The ‘man as microcosm’ is related to the humanistic view that man is the center of all being. The cosmic man is the key to understanding the universe. This concept holds that all life is a cycle of continuous motion which produces continuous change. In the Epithalamion, Spenser writes a monument to short time. He writes his poem in a form which alludes to the cycle of the astrological year. There are twenty-four stanzas, which represent the twenty-four hours in a day. The single day of his wedding that he writes about becomes a symbol of all days, all years, all of eternity.

The circle is used to symbolize the eternal image of time and its neverending cycle. The circle is never complete, it is constantly renewing itself. This point is made in the Mutability Cantos. The theme is "don’t fear-order will prevail." The circle is always begun again.

Both the Epithalamion and the Mutability Cantos address this issue of the ceaseless cycle of time, that every movement in the cosmos ‘dilates’ into each aspect of that movement and once all possibilities have been explored then you come back to the beginning again and the cycle begins anew.



K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2001, 2006


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