The Physicality Of Love In Astrophil And Stella By Sir Philip Sidney

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The poets of the Renaissance, however, did not neglect the physicality of love, and wrote about passion in several of their sonnets. As critic Robert H. Deming asserts, commenting John Donne’s Elegies, “Love of a celestial kind is love of the virtuous and beautiful woman … who is the first step up the Platonic ladder to love of an absolute, static kind. But this love is fit only for souls … hardly fit for bodies” (396). An example of the importance of physical desire is given in the sequence of 108 sonnets of “Astrophil and Stella” by Sir Philip Sidney. The protagonists of the sonnets are Astrophil, a young boy, and Stella, the girl he loves. Her name refers to a celestial dimension since the word “stella” means “star” in English. Nevertheless,…show more content…
In the sonnet, the poet celebrates Stella’s Virtue and he claims that everyone who looks at her “shall … find all vices overthrown”. (264). This is once again a use of the platonic theme that was dear to the Renaissance ideology. Stella is the living representation of the celestial purity of her name, as she leads every man to the right path of Virtue. As it often happens with Sidney’s sonnets, though, there is an interesting volta in the final line, “’But, ah!’ Desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (264). The poet writes that Stella is a very virtuous woman, but he also suggests the importance of physical Desire. The man who looks at her is indeed moved towards perfection, but he cannot ignore the power of passion, which demands to be satisfied like it were hunger. Sidney is making an important point: Desire cannot be ignored because “eating” is necessary for human survival. Deming states that “[Astrophil learns that] Desire and Love are so closely related in him that he “One from the other scarcely can descrie” (1.3) … Human love inheres at just that paradoxical moment when Desire and Pure Love are balanced and harmonized in their respective claims upon him.” (406). The great ability of Sidney is describing love at its best. The love the poets of the Italian Dolce Stilnovo wrote about in their poems is artificial, as it does not provide a truthful representation of what…show more content…
These poems are an invitation to seize the moment that men make to women. Readers need not be surprised, for also the theme of carpe diem was very popular among ancient authors, like Horace and Virgil. Therefore, Renaissance poets, with their classical taste, were fond of this theme and used it in their sonnets. Strange as it may seem, the poems of carpe diem, too, talk about love, but they abandon the idealized aspect of love as a yearning of the soul for higher realities, and mainly focus on passion and sex. These literary works are also significant because they give an insight of a male-centric society, where the man is not a courteous knight anymore, but he is a person with deep bodily instincts that want to satisfy his appetites. One of the best examples of these sonnets is “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick. The key part of the poem is the first stanza, when the poet tells the virgins that “this same flower that smiles today / Tomorrow will be dying” (757). He suggests using their time while they still can and profiting of “that age … when youth and blood are warmer”

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