Astrophil and Stella

The Foolishness of Writing in the Poetry of Sir Philip Sidney and John Donne. College

Stating that poetry should ‘teach, delight, and move men to take that goodness in hand’[1], it becomes clear why both Philip Sidney in ‘Sonnet 90’ and John Donne’s 'Triple Fool’ suggest that writing in regards to love is foolish. The poems contain nothing but a lover’s melancholy for their beloved and does not ‘move men to take’ action, in fact one could say that the opposite occurs, as both poets are so critical of themselves the reader almost expects them to give up writing. Arguably, their sense of foolishness comes from the ‘shame’[2] of being rejected, as this appears to be the recurring theme in their poems, especially as other poems such as ‘Sonnet 63’ by Sidney put up an argument for the positive aspects of writing. Sonnet 90 highlights a sense of foolishness for writing about love, the alternate rhyme of ‘fame’ and shame in lines one and four inextricably link the two together implying that Astrophil is shameful of the popularity he is seemingly getting from his poems. Furthermore the lines ‘I wish not there should be graved in mine epitaph a poet’s name’ (90, l. 7-8) suggest a desire to renounce his name as a poet, and also imply the failure he has received so far from writing poetry.

However despite his apparent...

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