Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
The Moon
By Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
WITH 1 how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What! may it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes 2        5
Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case:
I read it in thy looks; thy languish’d grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. 3
Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deem’d there but want of wit?        10
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be loved, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call ‘virtue’ there—ungratefulness? 4
Note 1. Sonnet xxxi. in Astrophel and Stella, 1591. “The first perfectly charming sonnet in the English language, a sonnet which holds its own after three centuries of competition.” (George Saintsbury, History of Elizabethan Literature, 1887.) [back]
Note 2. Long-with-love-acquainted eyes: Sidney is fond of compound words (as was Shakespeare). In his Defense of Poetry he considers English “particularly happy in compositions of two or three words together … which is one of the greatest beauties that can be in language.” [back]
Note 3. Descries: discloses, shows. [back]
Note 4. The last line of this poem is a little obscure by transposition. He means, Do they call ungratefulness there a virtue? (C. Lamb.) [back]

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