Sonnet 30

There is something strange about Sonnet 30 by Edmund Spenser (± 1552 – 13 January 1599). When searching for this poem, you will find out that there seems more than one title to this poem. What is the right one to use in this case?

When you want to play it safe, you can call this poem Sonnet 30. But sometimes, we do want to use a title. Should we go for Ice and fire or Fire and ice? Both of them may sound good, but actually, they aren’t. This poem is entitled Sonnet 30 and is referred to with the opening sentence of the poem (or a part of it): My love is like to ice.

Be that as it may, you can always dispute this. There shouldn’t be much dispute about this sonnet. This is a typical Spenserian sonnet. Not everyone has their own style named after themselves. Spenser did. It shows what a great poet he was. Forgotten and sometimes overshadowed by William Shakespeare.

If you want to read more about the work of Spenser, The Faerie Queene is a good starting point.

Sonnet 30

Sonnet 30

My love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?
Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?
What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congeal’d with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?
Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.

— Edmund Spenser


The poem tells the sad story of a man, who is in love with a woman. The woman does not love him back. He went to great efforts to win her love, but without luck. No matter how far she moves away from him, his desire gets stronger. It shows that too much effort is useless when it comes to love. Sometimes, it isn’t there.

With this in mind, a useful advice for everyone struggling with a similar “thing”: do what is best: just walk away. Don’t ever claim something that isn’t yours.

Sonnet 30
Article Name
Sonnet 30
A poem written by Edmund Spenser, about a love that can't be won
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs

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