“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
― W.H. Auden
My love of poetry started in high school. Along with the poems of Robert Frost, Sir Philip Sidney’s poem “Astrophil and Stella” was one of my first loves. I discovered it in my junior year English Literature class. As soon as I heard my teacher read the poem aloud for the first time, I was hooked. The language and the way with which the poet builds meaning moved me. You can feel Astrophil’s wanting build with each line. I remember thinking that I wanted to be wanted that way. And then there’s that last line—gets me every time. One line and yet so powerful. It was as if he was speaking to me, waking me up to what is in my own heart.
Astrophil and Stella 1
by Sir Philip Sidney
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That she, dear she, might take some pleasure of my pain,—
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,—
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inventions fine her wits to entertain,
Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburn’d brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting invention’s stay;
Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows;
And others’ feet still seem’d but strangers in my way.
Thus great with child to speak and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.”
(Image found here.)