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Explain the Petrarchan convention which you find in the sonnets of Sidney. Astrophel and Stella is a sonnet sequence by poet, courtier and swashbuckler Philip Sidney. Likely written in the 1580s, Astrophel and Stella was first published by Thomas Newman in 1591--consisting of 108 sonnets and 11 songs. This sonnet sequence anatomizes the love of a young, restless, self-conscious courtier. In the sonnet sequence, the golden-haired, black-eyed, Stella is shown as chaste, distant and finally unobtainable. Several conflicts and paradoxes popularized by the Courtly Love and Petrarchan tradition, such as Hope and Absence, frustrated desire alleviated temporarily by writing, the beautiful woman with the icy heart who resists the advances but encourage flattery and attention are present in this collection of sonnets. English sonnets during the Elizabethan age had its principal source in Petrarch in his writing of Rime sparse and Canznoniere. These lyrics in their verse forms and subjects became models for English sonneteers as they imitated and reworked its range, even though Petrarch came meditated to them through nearly two hundred years of imitators, commentators and adaptors. A typically unhappy relationship with a woman, who is highly idealized, but sometimes demonized, a preoccupation with the representation of the self and a problematizing of the nature of secular love in its relation to its spiritual counterpart are all from the Petrarchan treasure trove. Formal characteristics such as the use of the oxymoron, and metaphors for love, through references to hunting and ships on sea, were also adapted from the Italian source. Most of the love poetry of the age operates within the flexible rhetoric of the Petrarchan framework. Even the attitudes and stances of individual poets as ‘anti’ Petrarchan derive strength from the convention. The ‘Englishing’ of Petrarch lies according to Gary Waller in the contrasting socio-cultural contexts in which Petrarch and the English of the sixteen century wrote. Sir Sidney Philip is one of the pioneers to have experimented with the Petrarchan tradition and as Gary Waller rightly states:
“Sidney’s major poetic work, Astrophil and Stella marks the triumphant maturity of Elizabethan poetry and as well the first belated but spectacular adaptation of
pathos. Stella or Penelope so that her pity brings political favors and rise of love to Astrophil or Sidney. The beloved was idealized trough both the outer and inner beauty and in her perfection she was seen as helping the male poet love in accessing the divine. biting my truant pen. The use of oxymoron’s. In sonnet 1. and introduce an intensity and inwardness of feeling and perception formerly unknown in European poetry.…” Sidney follows the feudal relationship. They all by some way or the other follow the route of Petrarchanism. and pity grace obtain….e. religious. following the Petrarchan tradition. poetic. Stella behold. personification. study) in Astrophil and Stella’s first sonnet to work under the framework of Petrarchan tradition. In Sonnet 15. The old Petrarchan rhetoric is at work in Sidney’s sonnet sequence. sun burn’d brain). Both Petrarch’s Canzoniere and Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella. hyperbole and some other literary devices were the characteristics of Petrarchan tradition. cultural as well for its adaptation of the Petrachan convention. Thus. for the poetic construction of the beloved mistress. Thus. praises Stella.’ You that do search….” The six sonnets in our syllabus have the hints of Petrarchan conviction in them. delightful and provocative love poems in the language. sensuality. which was one of the prevalent feature of Courtly Love and works under the framework of the Petrachan tradition.” The word ‘pity’ is a way of maintaining the feudal relationship and also influences Stella(here) to sympathize with him and give rise to love. Sidney implies . Sidney uses metaphors(fresh and fruitful showers. The notion of idealizing the woman was very much the Petrarchan tradition. beating myself for spite. all the more powerful in the impact because of the variety of discourses that strain within it for articulation – erotic. and Neo-Platonic love.Petrarchanism to English aristocracy. political. ‘Loving in truth. hyperboles (sun burn’ brain. Subtly the sonnet is in praise of Stella’s eternal beauty. which draws heavenly upon the convections established by Petrarch. the word ‘pity’ is used in the octave of the first sonnet: “. courtly Petrarchan desire impelled the lover faithfully to serve his lady just as a feudal servant served his master. In sonnet 1 of Astrophil and Stella the personification is widely use.” weave together romance. passion. You seek to nurse at fullest breast of Fame.Knowledge might pity win.. The word ‘pity’ hints at the notion of idealizing the woman i. Nature’s child. Petrarch’s original idealizes the woman. and then begin to indite. blackest face of woe) and personifications(Others’ feet. great wit child.” Astrophil and Stella remains today one of the most moving. The longing for spiritual ideal (Stella) is displayed in the sestet.” Sidney apart from exploring the creative process. The inherited Petrarchan system gave poets of the period a definitive model in Laura.
” (Sonnet XXXIV). impute it but to chance. Stella. the desire for the unattainable ideal that gives life meaning and desire for reward. identity always de-centered. The favors which are being talked were one of the adamant feature of Courtly love and political ambition of the poets at that time. Others. of Astrophil and Stella) because they thus give meaning to their lives. the result is that resolution. Astrophil acknowledges t he rational relationship between beauty virtue and love. However Astrophil. “Because I oft in dark abstracted guise/ Seem most alone in greatest company. skill. He rejects all the reasoning and . He fights in a tournament against envoys from the French court and emerges victorious. Think nature me a man of arms did make.that Stella his love is the perfect source for inspiration and not contemporary conventions or the works of former poets like Petrarch. ‘COME. This leads to the idea of metamorphosis. Sidney aptly conveys the atmosphere of such jousting and tournaments. yet there occurs an objectification of desire whose presence still dominates in his mind unlike Plato who believed that all human beings should be guided by the superior faculty of reason In Sonnet XXXIV. believes that victory was gained because he loved and served a worth lady. we see the assembled spectators arguing amongst themselves whether Sidney’s victory should be attributed to his strength. ‘The glasses of thy vexing care?’ The words of the poet are like a mirror. The very nature of the paradox is such that closure is always undermined even while it is being asserted. even meaning is always questioned. because of both sides I do take My bold from them. following the traditions of Petrarchan love. the use of glasses is inspired by Petrarchan. “How can words ease. who did excel in this. In the sonnet. confirm their worth. a tension between unity and fragmentation of the self. reference is made to Sidney’s hyperactive public life. Another instance is his divorce from the external world in his separation from his friends and his loss of social identity as expressed in Sonnet XXVII. and establish their own inmost identity as persons. good fortune or inherited talent Some lucky wits.” The microcosmic relation between the body of man and the body of world is disrupted due to his love for Stella. which are/ The glasses of they daily vexing care? Oh cruel fights well pictured-forth do please/ Art not ashamed to publish thy disease. Men follow feudal superiors or worship women (in case. Petrarchan conventions provide Astrophil the space to articulate the multiple changes of self that occur under the transforming power of love. First. This refers to the characteristic Petrarchan tradition of the languishing lover pleading with the haughty beloved for favors. Reason tells him that Stella is not able to pity him and that he should stop expressing himself through poetry. Self division is noticed when debates take place between passion and reason inside Astrophil. an insight to his woe. There were two kinds of ‘desire’ which the sonneteers talked about in their sonnets during the English Renaissance. let me’. prove their nobility. In sonnet 41. gain honor.
requiring an unusually active involvement from their readers. Stella is entirely the product of her poet-lover’s desires. But cannot skill to pity my disgrace. most present when she refuses him. loving Stella so pre. Stella is like other Petrarchan mistress. Not though thereof the cause herself she know. and hence of the reader. His love for Stella drives him to various conflicting acts of self-revelation. Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella is encoded within a male-dominated discourse. or is absent. directs us continually to our . producing meanings within the changing encounters between poem and readers. He says: Sidney’s sonnets provide a theater of desire in which the man Has all the active roles. Stella looked on. and an which the woman is silent or Merely iconic. The Petrarchan internalization tangles loyalty with desire. The Petrarchan lyric is typically inaugural. languishing for his beloved. reduced to a disconnected set of characteristics. Gary Waller highlights is entirely the marginal role of Stella in the sonnets an song sequence. The poet hopes that Stella will be moved by this distress and anguish on his face. A traditional and practical reason for writing sonnet 45 is to persuade Stella to return his love by an appeal to pity. and from her heavenly face Sent forth the beams which made so fair my race In sonnet XLV. The poet clarifies this sentiment in the couplet ending of this sonnet.occupies Astrophil that it keeps him performing his public duties as he should. it inspires him to win tournaments and to distinguish himself as gentleman. STELLA oft sees the very face of woe Painted in my beclouded stormy face. On one hand. In such a situation he is a typical Petrarchan lover. The continual isolation of the ‘I’. and fixes them both on the unobtainable object. On the other hand. It robs him to rationality. It is ambivalent.compliments of the spectators and says it was Stella who inspired him to victory. The theme of honor is pervasive in Astrophil and Stella. especially as it is focused in Astrophil’s obsession with self. the impact of love on Astrophil is shown poignantly. (Walter 146) Another distinctive feature of the Petrarchan context which applies to Astrophil and Stella is the emphasis on self examination – seen in the continual insistence on the inner experience of the ‘lover’. requiring its completion in its audience’s experiences and responses. She is manipulated by or impinges on her lover’s consciousness.
and Robert. SIDNEY. One such audience is fellow lover-poets in Sonnet 6. Rina Ramidev.2003.” BIBLIOGRAPHY • • • ED. comparable to coral song or dance. But always the most important audiences are the ones unnamed those of us who through the poem’s history will read them. Delhi-7.. and DONNE A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION. Sir Philip Sidney: “huge desire”. What Rudestine calls the Sidney’s style “the outward sign of a particular sign of life” refers less to Sidney than to his audience. and DONNE A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION. Mary. Delhi-7. Rina Ramidev. mediate upon and act out their drama: “You that with allegory’s curious frame”. Three Philip Sidneys. where Sidney distinguishes his ‘trembling voice’ and sincerity of love from those of other lovers thereby forcing them to respond. his suffering hero will address another rather special named audience or will address a friend or occasionally even himself. Book Land Publishing Co.ED. Rina Ramdev. derived from a need for collective participation..own self consciousness. Delhi-7.Philip. .2003. Book Land Publishing Co. SIDNEY. SPENCER.ED. At times. Book Land Publishing Co.. SPENCER. SIDNEY.. SPENCER. and DONNE A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION.than as a mimetic activity.2003. Such a scope for reader/audience participation also arises from the fact that most important role of the medieval poet was as announcer or spokesman of the court’s values and it hence made the Petrarchan tradition as Zumthor says “less as an individual creation….
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