Astrophil and Stella sounded like a spacefaring duo but it’s so much worse

Question 1: What does Astrophil even mean? I really cannot stop seeing it as Astro Phil, like some 80s sci-fi astronaut cowboy. Turns out, Astrophil literally translates from Latin as “star lover.” And Stella means “star.” Astrophil loves Stella. But I think there’s more to it than that. In Sidney’s time, space travel was completely out of the question, meaning that even though the star-lover pines after the stars, he can never have them. I think it’s a subtle foreshadowing of future events, because she doesn’t really respond to his affections. I’ve read that the collection of sonnets are based on Sidney’s experiences in loving a married woman who never really felt the same way, so I think it’s both bittersweet and a little upsetting on Sidney’s part in pursuing someone that doesn’t love him back.

Question 2: Why does Astrophil commit to writing about Stella, but later admits that he doesn’t think she loves him back? I think I read more than I was supposed to, but I was invested in the story. Astrophil was so in love with Stella and I was shattered to realized his love was one sided. I guess this is more of a question as to why he can’t really take the hint that Stella is just not interested in him. I believe that this is Sidney’s way of presenting the issue from the side of the offender. I really can’t see the poem as a defending position, but then again Sidney wrote hundreds of parts to this poem. Maybe there’s more to it? I really didn’t get this one. Poetry has always been hard for me. I think the idea of a perspective from someone’s point of view when the other isn’t interested is in them is an interesting way to show the mental gymnastics some people go through. The way that Sidney writes is really fantastic and evokes the feeling of love, even though Stella doesn’t actually, you know, care.

4 thoughts on “Astrophil and Stella sounded like a spacefaring duo but it’s so much worse

  1. Hi there, I read a bit ahead too! Astrophil sounds like a hopeless romantic, does he not? That poor poor guy! Honestly, it is pretty sad that he wrote all about Stella, just to admit to himself that she probably does not feel the same, and proves that he is basically writing about her for nothing. I mean it is sad, but at least he can admit that to himself, and realize it, instead of making up scenarios in his head about it. It is so sad because he is so deeply in love with her and the feeling is just not mutual. Thanks for posting! Hope you are well!

  2. Hopeless romanticism as a type of early modern science fiction? There’s definitely a strand there of unattainable love as the ‘last frontier’ of emotional expression. (Not that I think that’s accurate, but it’s definitely in line with the ‘mood’ of petrarchan poetry).

  3. I didn’t read ahead like you did, but I thought about his unrequited love for Stella throughout the sonnets we did read. In the first sonnet, he mentions she wants him to pity him, which I took as the feelings being truly one sided. I think the hundreds of poems dedicated to this one-sided love may be to show how consuming love can be. Astrophil knows that Stella does not necessarily feel the same way that he does, but his feelings are so strong that he remains dedicated to her, writing so many sonnets about the same general idea.

  4. Going off of both your questions and both your statements, I think it’s cool that Astrophil means star lovers and Stella means star. This made me think of the concept that maybe, in Sidney’s mind the two were soul mates, but one-sided soul mates, which leads to the second question. I think that even though Stella doesn’t return his affections and doesn’t feel the same way in return, it doesn’t fight the idea that Astrophil is still a star lover, and Stella is still the star. Just because Astrophil cannot have, her does not mean he will stop loving her, and that’s why there are so many poems, to show the love Astrophil has and will always have for Stella because in his mind they were meant to be, even if she does not return the feeling.

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