A brief analysis of Sir Philip Sidney's Sonnet 7

Essay by purplehippoUniversity, Bachelor's April 2007

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Sir Philip Sidney’s Sonnet 7 is from the sonnet sequence Astophel and Stella dating from the sixteenth century. It is a lament by one of the central figures, Astophel, a man who is in love with the other central figure, Stella, who is ultimately unattainable because she is married to another man.

In the first few lines of the poem, Astrophil talks about Stella’s black eyes and how they “beam so bright” (ll. 2) and how in “beamy black” (ll. 3) she radiates beauty. The excerpt chosen begins with “Or did she else that sober hue devise,/ In object best to knit and strength our sight,” (ll. 5-6) meaning that perhaps her eyes are not only black but she is actually wearing black, and uses this color as an object to help make her more noticeable among other “shades and light” (ll. 4). The image given here is one of black versus white – specifically, “beamy black” (ll.

3) versus “luster shades and light” (ll. 4). However, as one would more traditionally see the sparkling shades and light as way of “strength[ening] our sight” (ll. 6), in this case it is in fact black, that makes her stand out and more noticeable, because she makes it more beautiful than anything else in comparison. In the next two lines Astrophil says, “Lest if no veil these brave gleams did disguise,/ They, sun-like, should more dazzle than delight?” (ll. 7-8) meaning that if nothing was to cover her black “sun-like” (ll. 8) eyes it would only further intensify ones confusion rather than just being a source of enjoyment for the onlooker. In the next two lines Astrophil again reiterates how with her “miraculous power” (ll. 9) she makes black –“beauty’s contrary” (ll. 10) – a source for all “beauties [to] flow” (ll.