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Edited by Richard Dutton
Categories: 16th Century
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (180 pages)
(Pub. Jan 1987)
The curious wits, seeing dull pensiveness
Bewray itself in my long settled eyes,
Whence those same fumes of melancholy rise,
With idle pains, and missing aim do guess.
Some that know how my spring I did address,
Deem that my Muse some fruit of knowledge plies,
Others, because the prince my service tries,
Think that I think state errors to redress.
But harder judges judge ambition's rage,
Scourge of itself, still climbing slipp'ry place,
Holds my young brain captiv'd in golden cage.
O fools, or overwise, alas the race
Of all my thoughts hath neither stop not start,
But only Stella's eyes and Stella's heart.
from Astrophil and Stella
Sir Philip Sidney is the first major poet-critic. His biographer, Fulke Greville, portrayed him as a model of correctness, noble bearing and heroism. Sidney was a considerable figure in his day and is still renowned for his three major literary works: The Defence of Poetry (the first great essay on poetry in English), Astrophil and Stella (one of the finest of the English sonnet sequences) and Arcadia ( a romance with a claim to be the first English novel).
This selection includes the full text of the Defence of Poetry and Astrophil and Stella, fully annotated, with a selection of the other poems. 'When Sidney died,' writes Richard Dutton, 'those who mourned him did so as a hero of Protestant Europe, a model of Christian virtue, of the Renaissance scholar-poet, of the true knight.' Dutton corrects the exaggerations in the popular view, painting a human, fallible and credible figure. He also emerges as a more sympathetic writer, losing the coldness of the heroic gloss that normally accompanies him.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Texts
Astrophil and Stella
The Defence of Poetry
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