Analysis of Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 34

Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 34 (Come, let me write) is written by Sir Philip Sidney.


This sonnet is in the form of a dialogue between reason and heart—almost an inner conflict. While the poet’s heart impels him to write, Reason checks him. Aristotlianism comes into the progression of the poem.

Heart wants to unburden itself by writing verses which will release his pent-up emotions and thus ease his mind. Reason argues as to how verses will ease his mind while they are the mirrors of his frustration and woe. On the other hand his heart says that beautifully painted conflict will please Stella. Reason asks him if he is not ashamed to print and make public his weakness and woes. Heart responds that his verses may bring him fame which is rare. The poet’s reason counters this argument by saying that all wise men will consider his verses and pleas as foolish trifles. The heart suggests that if such pleas of love are kept secret, no one shall know and consequently they will displease none.

Once again the heart-shoots another arguments that it is mere foolishness or an indication of idleness to speak out and at the same time wish not to be heard; it is certainly hard and difficult to remain silent and not utter a word of protest against torment and torture one undergoes.

However in this debate reason wins and the poet’s mind is silenced. But then he writes but now he lacks confidence and doubts overwhelm him as he wastes ink while expressing his miserable condition which he attributes to the magnetic powers of Stella, his goddess, and remains in the stake of mental and emotional confusion.

It is a fascinating sonnet which reveals the lover’s miserable plight. He wants to ease his mind by writing, but reason cautious him against his foolish idea of making his passions and related weaknesses public. No one will appreciate his verses, wise men may even ridicule him and make fun of his trifles. Astrophil finds himself trapped and feels that all this situation is caused by Stella who has great and overwhelming power.

Aristotle has given primacy to intellect and reason, as against emotions and passions. In the neo-Platonic ladder passions are earthly and man is no better than beasts, if he does not use the higher faculties. However, Sidney allots a much higher status to poets in his Apology for Poetry.

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