Astrophil and Stella

by Sir Philip Sidney

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 312

Astrophil and Stella is a collection of over a hundred sonnets by Sir Philip Sidney that express a deep and sincere love for Stella, who is likely his former lover and fiancee, Lady Penelope Devereux.

This collection of love poems and songs is a long and detailed outcry for his lover, ranging in emotion from overjoyed and hopeful to somber and morose over their disconnection. The litany of poems suggest a longtime devotion to writing her poetry, potentially in the hopes of winning her back.

The brief poems create a somewhat cohesive, if unusual, narrative of the two lovers, named "Astrophil and Stella" as the title suggests, and mixes their relationship with musings and discussions from the Fates and Reason itself. It takes the form of a Shakespearean play or a Greek tragedy in that it frequently calls out Nature and other inanimate constructs who apparently influence their relationship.

There are many instances in the poems where Astrophil states that he has been told by other forces that he must move on, he must cease loving Stella, but he refuses to do so. In one instance, Nature has told him to move up to the country and forget about her, but he can't leave her behind. This lends credence to the idea that Stella is, in fact, Lady Devereux, with whom he is still infatuated.

The loose narrative of the story is confusing and nonsensical, meant not to tell a true story but to weave the details together of their romance and his separation and yearning for her. It creates a quasi-story in which Astrophil and Stella are passionately in love, but the unseen forces that guide life have driven them apart. They continue to pine for one another, but because of the external forces, they can never be united—echoing the idea that the two are a star and her lover.

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