Can anyone explain Sir Philip Sidney's "Sonnet 21"?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This sonnet contains two speakers. The first seems to be a friend of Astrophil who notes that Astrophil's love is causing his behavior to shift.  Astrophil has been losing his sense of reason, his commitment to his job or service, and his pursuit for his political career over time. The good friend notes the potential that is in the young man, and uses the phrases "great expectation", "nobler desires", "coltish gyres", which all offer youthful hope in the pursuits of life, but none offer the actual attainment. The friend worries for Astrophil's political future.

Astrophil responds to the friend's criticism with sarcasm. He asks the friend to exercise all that wisdom to determine the depth of Stella's beauty in the world. Obviously Astrophil was unaffected by the words of concern shared by a friend because of his infatuation with his love.

Read the study guide:
Astrophil and Stella

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