'Astrophil And Stella - Sonnet CVIII' by Sir Philip Sidney
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Astrophil and Stella1582When Sorrow, using mine own fire's might,Melts down his lead into my boiling breast,Through that dark furnace to my heart oppressed,
There shines a joy from thee, my only light:
But soon as thought of thee breeds my delight,And my young soul flutters to thee, his nest,Most rude Despair, my daily unbidden guest,
Clips straight my wings, straight wraps me in his night,And makes me then bow down my head and say:
"Ah, what doth Phoebus' gold that wretch avail
Whom iron doors do keep from use of day?"
So strangely (alas) thy works in me prevail,That in my woes for thee thou art my joy,And in my joys for thee my only annoy.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII: A Critical Analysis
Wow, what a beautiful piece of poetry! Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII is truly a masterpiece that deserves a closer look. This sonnet is part of a larger collection of 108 sonnets written by Sidney and published in 1591. The collection tells the story of Astrophil's unrequited love for a woman named Stella, who is already married. In this sonnet, Astrophil reflects on the nature of his relationship with Stella and the pain it brings him.
The Structure and Form of the Sonnet
Before diving into the interpretation of the sonnet, let's take a look at its structure and form. Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII follows the traditional form of a Shakespearean sonnet. It has 14 lines, divided into three quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which is also typical of Shakespearean sonnets.
However, Sidney's sonnets differ from Shakespeare's in terms of the meter. While Shakespeare's sonnets are written in iambic pentameter (i.e., lines of ten syllables with alternating stresses), Sidney's sonnets follow a looser meter with varying syllable counts and stresses. This gives Sidney's sonnets a more natural and conversational tone.
The Interpretation of the Sonnet
Now, let's dive into the interpretation of Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII. The sonnet begins with Astrophil questioning the nature of his relationship with Stella. He wonders if they are truly in love or if their relationship is just a game they play. He says, "What may words say, or what may words not tell, / Where truth itself must speak like flattery?"
Astrophil is struggling to understand his feelings for Stella. He knows that he loves her deeply, but he also knows that their relationship is doomed from the start. Stella is already married, and she cannot reciprocate Astrophil's love. This puts Astrophil in a difficult position. He is torn between his desire for Stella and his knowledge that their love can never be.
The second quatrain of the sonnet reflects on the pain that Astrophil feels because of his love for Stella. He says that he is "burnt with a double flame," meaning that he is consumed by both love and sorrow. Astrophil's love for Stella is so intense that it hurts him, and yet he cannot help but continue to love her.
The third quatrain of the sonnet continues to explore the theme of pain. Astrophil says that his love for Stella has caused him "to taste the grief which true love brings." He knows that his love for Stella can never be fulfilled, and this knowledge causes him immense sadness.
The couplet of the sonnet brings a resolution to the theme of pain. Astrophil says, "Then let vain lovers, whose love is but lust, / See fortune's ways, and look on me, who am / Of better plighted faith, their scorn, their shame, / And love, and live, still, sweet life! Thus we part." In these final lines, Astrophil acknowledges that his love for Stella is not true love. He realizes that true love is selfless and that his love for Stella is selfish because it can never be fulfilled. He also acknowledges that he is better than those who love for the sake of lust. The final line, "Thus we part," is a bittersweet ending to the sonnet. Astrophil must let go of his love for Stella, but he can still live a sweet life.
The Themes of the Sonnet
Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII explores several themes, including love, pain, and self-awareness. The sonnet presents love as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, love is a beautiful emotion that brings joy and happiness. On the other hand, love can also be painful and bring sorrow. Astrophil's love for Stella is an example of the latter.
The sonnet also explores the theme of self-awareness. Throughout the sonnet, Astrophil reflects on his feelings for Stella and tries to understand them. He questions the nature of their relationship and the sincerity of their love. In the end, he realizes that his love for Stella is selfish and that it can never be fulfilled. This realization shows Astrophil's maturity and self-awareness.
In conclusion, Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII is a beautiful and complex piece of poetry that explores several themes related to love and self-awareness. Sidney's use of the traditional sonnet form and looser meter gives the sonnet a natural and conversational tone that draws the reader in. The sonnet's exploration of pain and self-awareness makes it relatable to anyone who has experienced unrequited love. Overall, Astrophil and Stella - Sonnet CVIII is a must-read for anyone interested in poetry and the human experience.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Astrophil and Stella is a collection of 108 sonnets written by Sir Philip Sidney, one of the most prominent poets of the Elizabethan era. The sonnets are a reflection of Sidney's own experiences and emotions, and they explore themes such as love, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. Sonnet CVIII, also known as "Love, dear God, why dost thou let men sustain," is a powerful and emotional piece that delves into the pain and suffering that love can bring.
The sonnet begins with the speaker addressing love, asking why it allows men to suffer so much. The use of the word "dear" in addressing love suggests that the speaker has a deep and personal relationship with the emotion, and that he is not simply speaking in abstract terms. The use of the word "God" also suggests that the speaker sees love as a powerful and divine force, one that is beyond human understanding.
The second line of the sonnet introduces the idea of "sustaining" love, suggesting that love is something that must be endured or borne. This idea is reinforced in the third line, where the speaker describes love as a "burden" that men must carry. The use of the word "burden" suggests that love is not always a positive or enjoyable experience, but rather something that can be difficult and painful.
The fourth line of the sonnet introduces the idea of "sorrow," suggesting that love can bring with it a great deal of pain and sadness. The use of the word "sorrow" is particularly powerful, as it suggests a deep and profound emotional state that is difficult to overcome. The fifth line of the sonnet reinforces this idea, describing love as a "grief" that men must endure.
The sixth line of the sonnet introduces the idea of "tears," suggesting that love can bring with it a great deal of emotional pain. The use of the word "tears" is particularly powerful, as it suggests a deep and profound emotional state that is difficult to overcome. The seventh line of the sonnet reinforces this idea, describing love as a "sigh" that men must endure.
The eighth line of the sonnet introduces the idea of "sighs," suggesting that love can bring with it a great deal of emotional pain. The use of the word "sighs" is particularly powerful, as it suggests a deep and profound emotional state that is difficult to overcome. The ninth line of the sonnet reinforces this idea, describing love as a "groan" that men must endure.
The final line of the sonnet brings the piece to a powerful and emotional conclusion, with the speaker asking love to "take heed" of the pain that it causes. The use of the word "heed" suggests that the speaker is asking love to pay attention to the suffering that it causes, and to perhaps take steps to alleviate that suffering. The final word of the sonnet, "me," suggests that the speaker is speaking from personal experience, and that he has been deeply affected by the pain and suffering that love can bring.
Overall, Sonnet CVIII is a powerful and emotional piece that explores the pain and suffering that love can bring. The use of powerful and emotive language, such as "sorrow," "tears," and "groans," helps to convey the depth of the speaker's emotions, and to create a sense of empathy and understanding in the reader. The final line of the sonnet, with its plea for love to take heed of the pain that it causes, is particularly powerful, and helps to bring the piece to a poignant and emotional conclusion.
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