Astrophel and Stella: Sonnet by Philip Sidney - Summary

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      Astrophel and Stella is a series of sonnets written by Philip Sidney and is a remarkable sonnet sequence in Elizabethan lyric poetry. It contains one hundred and eight sonnets and eleven songs. There was undoubtedly a personal element in this love verse. Sidney (Astrophel) was in love with Penelope Devereux (Stella). Penelope married Lord Rich. The sonnet sequence expresses the unfulfilled love of the poet. Astrophel means lover of the star and Stella means the star. It is built on the Petrarchan theme of disappointed love of a Petrarch for Laura. But the poems have to be judged by their merit. The poems are superb in form and are more than formal exercises. The poems record the feelings of an earnest and emotionally charged youth for a young girl with whom he had almost contracted a marriage of convenience in her childhood and with whom he had been on 'matter of course' relations because of her mother's marriage to his uncle.

Astrophel and Stella is a series of sonnets written by Philip Sidney
Astrophel and Stella

      The sonnet sequence expresses the bitter sorrow, the struggle of a virtuous heart between love and duty, desire to possess her. Through the sonnets, the figure of a high-born young man appears more and more revealed. Within the narrow bounds of its fourteen lines, he expressed each movement of his verse, each incident of his love. Thus Sidney revived the sonnet which had been neglected in England since Surrey's death. Sidney's sonnets are written in a form conforming to Petrarchan pattern, but differing from it through the employment of a final couplet which came into general use among Elizabethan sonneteers. As poetry, these sonnets mark an epoch. They are the first direct expression in English literature of an intimate and personal experience, struck off in the white heat of passion. sonnet No. 1 is a manifesto of the Sonnet-sequence. There is an ironic note combined with seriousness of love theme and aesthetic theory.

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