larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
[personal profile] larryhammer
For Poetry Monday, continuing the (non)argument of Wyatt and Gascoigne, a pome from Astrophil and Stella:


Sonnet 31, Philip Sidney

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What, may it be that even in heav'nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries!

Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case,
I read it in thy looks; thy languish'd grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.

Then, ev'n of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?

Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?


See also sonnet 39. Sir Philip was the Elizabethan courtier par excellence, in the opinion of his contemporaries, and a damn fine writer. Astrophil and Stella is not actually the first sonnet sequence in English, but it was the first Petrarchan one -- and it sparked a fad for them, including Shakespeare's famous, incomplete one. It's also, IMNSHO, the best of the Elizabethan sonnet cycles, as it tells a complete, dramatic story, and including drama is something that only Drayton also managed. Note that Sidney is not actually a practicing Petrarchan lover -- he spends a lot of time arguing against several of the conventions, even while embracing the genre.

---L.

Subject quote from "Passing Afternoon," Iron & Wine.
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