How can you explain the stanzaic and line structure in Sir Philip Sidney's “My True Love Hath My Heart”

Expert Answers
lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem by Philip Sidney is a sonnet, so the structure of the poem is 14 lines, and in this case, it has an Italian Sonnet structure.  You can see that the first 8 lines (the octet) are broken into 2 4-line sentences. Then the final 6 lines (the sextet) are the last sentence of the poem.  The rhyme scheme also helps unify these sections.

In this clever poem, the speaker (a woman) is explaining how she and her love have exchanged hearts, and that this act has made them very happy.  This poem takes the almost cliche idea of exchanging hearts and takes it to the extreme, almost implying a literal exchange of hearts.  The octet explains how she has his heart and he has hers, and because of this exchange they are now inextricably joined.

In the sextet she explains they have each received a wound -- this is an allusion to Cupid, who with his arrow shots, gives wounds, but those wounds cause love, so they are wounds that ultimately cause bliss.  The final line repeats the first line, thus reinforcing the theme of the poem.