Summary of Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 45

Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 45 (Stella oft sees the very face of woe) is written by Sir Philip Sidney.

Summary

Stella often sees the face of the poet. (Being the wife of Lord Rich she must be frequently present in the court where all nobility assembled): The face of the poet reflects the misery the plight of his heart of which his face is the index. The unfortunate part (the poet’s misfortune) is that she is unable to understand his tragedy nor does she take pity on his frustration and the agony and the anguish. She is fully aware of the cause of his woe and the beclouded face.

The second quatrain takes a peculiar turn. When Stella reads the story of misery and plight of lovers who have never suffered (because it is mere fiction), the tragic story fills her breast with pity, and brings a flood of tears in her eyes. The poet lover feels that the works of fiction cause pity and bring favour, engender the feelings of pity as against the servants’ real torment; which the beloved doubts and does not believe to be true.

Then (the poet appeals to Stella) you should consider in my verses as the tragic tale of a lover. I am no more I (the lover) but the one who narrates a tragic tale, i.e, a living being; therefore you should take pity on me, taking my verse as a lover’s tale.

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