A reading of a classic Sidney poem
Sonnet 31 from Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella (sometimes Astrophel and Stella), which begins with the line ‘With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies’, is one of the most famous poems in the entire sonnet sequence. Astrophil and Stella was the first substantial sonnet sequence composed in English, in the early 1580s. Sidney (1554-86) was inspired by his unrequited love for Penelope Rich (nee Devereux), who was offered to him as a potential wife a few years before. Sidney turned her down, she married Lord Robert Rich, and Sidney promptly realised he was in love with her. What follows is a brief analysis of Sonnet 31, which sees Sidney addressing the moon as a potential fellow-sufferer from Cupid’s cruel arrows.
With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies;
How silently, and with how wan…
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