Astrophil and Stella is a sonnet sequence and "songs" that relate the love and obsession of Astrophil, whose name means "star-lover" in Greek, for Stella, whose name means "star" in Latin. Thus, even these names are allusions. These sonnets are written in the Petrarchan convention and allude to historical and political events, religion, philosophy, mythology, and geography, among others.
- The Muses help provide inspiration for Astrophil, appearing in many Sonnets, including 1,3,6,13,55,60,77, and 84. Immediately, in Sonnet 1, Astrophil calls upon the Muses, nine goddesses of inspiration who embodied the arts and inspired the imagination, to aid him in his expression of love,
Muses, I oft invoked your holy aid,
With choices flow'rs my speech t'engarland so
That it, despis'd in true by naked show,
Might win some grace in your sweet skill array'd.
- Sonnet 3 contains both mythological allusion to the Muses, "the sisters nine," and a geographical allusion to Indian and Africa.
Of herbs or beasts which Inde or Afric’ hold.
- Sonnet 13 alludes to mythology again, "Phoebus the sun-god drew the curtains of the skies, the clouds."
- Also in Sonnet 74 are there mythological allusions: Aganippe, or Tempe's Valley where Apollo pursued Daphne.
- In Sonnet 5, there is a historical allusion to the philosophical and religious debate on the nature of love. While the Neo-platonic theory purported that inner goodness was represented in physical beauty, the Christian view was that "true beauty virtue is indeed." But, even though he acknowledges that inner virtue is genuine beauty, Astrophil is fixated upon Stella's outward physical beauty:
True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made,
And should in soul up to our country move:
True, and yet true that I must Stella love
This sonnet also alludes to Platonic thought as Astrophil acknowledges that he should use reason, but he "must Stella love."
- In Sonnet 38, too, there is a historical allusion to the archetypal Petrarchan lover trapped in the freedom-servitude paradox.
I call it praise to suffer tyranny
- In addition, there is a reiteration of the referral to "like-slave Muscovite" from Sonnet 2:
Now even that footstep of lost liberty
Is gone, and now like slave-born Muscovite
- More Petrarchan paradoxes are alluded to earlier in Sonnet 6: “living deaths, dear wounds, fair storms, and freezing fires”
- Sonnet 6 finds Astrophil calling again upon the Muses and alluding to Nature:
One of them dresses his poems with Jupiter and Jupiter’s strange tales,
Embroidering them with bulls and swans, sprinkling golden rain
- Sonnet 17 also contains an allusion to Nature: "Till that his grandame Nature pitying it"