In Sir Philip Sidney's "Sonnet XXXI", the writer is addressing the moon. In the first two lines, he is commenting on the pale, sad appearance of the moon, and then, in the remainder of the poem, he is exploring the question of whether even in the "heavenly place" where the moon resides, there is love, with all its vagaries, as there is on earth. Sidney poses the question directly in the third and fourth lines, asking, "What, may it be that even in heavenly place that busy archer his sharp arrows tries?" The archer the writer refers to is Cupid, the mythological god of love.
In the next five lines, the writer describes some aspects of the moon which make him believe that that heavenly body is a veteran of love's trials. The series of questions that follow in the remainder of the poem outline some of the paradoxes of love that cause lovers pain. These include the question of whether constant love is considered simply the lack of intrigue or "wit", the haughty pride found so frequently in the most beautiful of women, the fickleness of those who long to be loved, yet "scorn" or are cruel to those who would love them, and whether virtue, perhaps in the denial of "love's favors", is scorned as "ungratefulness" for the would-be lover's attention.