Structure of 'With how sad steps O'moon' | Philip Sidney poems


 "With How Sad Steps, O'Moon" is sonnet 3 in Sir Philip Sidney's "Astrophel and Stella". The theme of this sonnet is the conventional one of love's miseries. The speaker of the poem identifies himself with the Moon which climbs the skies with 'sad steps'. The Moon looks sadly to the poet's eyes who also feels the same way, so he fancies that the Moon herself fallen in love like he has. This personification of the Moon, leads to a series comparisons between human and divine worlds.

Structure of 'With how sad steps O'moon' 

Structurally, the sonnet follows the conventional division of octave and sested. There is the break in the development of the thought at the end of the eight lines. 

The octave develops the image of the Moon, 'sad', 'silent' and 'wan'. These are the external marks of the love lost lover. So, the poet wonders if Cupid, the God of love, 'that busy archer' has shot his arrows of love into the Moon's heart.

The speaker's tone takes a personal note in the fifth line as he reveals that he has been long acquainted with love. So, he can just confidently judge that the Moon is feeling all sufferings of romantic love.
In the sested the poet addresses the Moon as a fellow friend in love.  He asked the Moon whether faithful love is considered foolish in the divine world of Moon.  

The poet wonders whether the beautiful ladies in the Moon's world are as proud as the ladies on Earth.  
Further question arises,  whether women are hypocritical.  They who love to be loved,  yet reject the faithful and sincere admirers.  

The final interrogation is a moral one - is it virtue to be ungrateful in heaven as it is in Earth . This question points to the injustice and imbalance of romantic love. 

Theme of the poem "With How Sad Steps O'Moon"

This sonnet in theme and style is imitative of Petrach,  the great Italian sonneteer.  The poet undertake to display all the contrary feelings of the lover - hope and despire,  tenderness and bitterness by the use of conceits.  In Sidney's sonnet 3, the conceit turns on the comparison between the poet's feeling and the Moon.  But what gives Sidney's sonnets the extra ordinary vigour and freshness - is Sidney's ability to dramatize. Our present poem exemplify this distinct quality. 
The octave is a quite description of the Moon but the sested addresses the Moon,  next the situation dramatize.  

Thus,  Sidney hightenes the situation as much as he can within the 14 lines of the sonnet. 


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