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

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

Summary

The poet asks his heart to get ready to write. Reason tells him, to what purpose, or what for? The heart replies that it wishes to unburden itself (Reason) — How can the words reduce the burden as they are the mirror, an insight to his misery (Heart) — well-painted conflict is certainly pleasing.

The reason asks if he would not feel ashamed to make his woes caused by wooing a lady who refuses to relent. The heart argues that his poems may bring fame instead of shame, for fame is so rare. The reason rejects this contention and argues that wise men will consider his love affair as something foolish, a mere trifle. The reason advises that such things matters should be kept as a guarded secret so that no one knows. Thus reason is not against expressing his thoughts and feelings in verse, but such matters should be kept private and not made public.

The heart has yet another argument. Is it not a foolish thing to speak (write verses) and be not heard by anyone? The poet compares the heart to a speaker, What’s more, idle thing for a speaker to go on speaking with none to hear. He finally asks his faculties to cease, for reason has silenced all his eloquence.

Even after this, he wants to write, but now doubts have started sneaking in. However, he feels that he can release (give vent to) all his pent up desires and thoughts, his frustration and disappointments by writing—making or causing a huge loss of ink. His hopes of winning Stella are just a dream; instead of inspiring him, Stella is now confusing his mind and thoughts.

Stella is glorious she is almost a goddess. But she is now confusing the poet’s mind. He remains undecided (after the preceding dialogue) whether he should continue to write or not or whether he should remain content with his usual way of admiring her.

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