A Short Analysis of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella 31: ‘With how sad steps, O moon’

A reading of a classic Sidney poem

Sonnet 31 from Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella (sometimes Astrophel and Stella), which begins with the line ‘With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies’, is one of the most famous poems in the entire sonnet sequence. Astrophil and Stella was the first substantial sonnet sequence composed in English, in the early 1580s. Sidney (1554-86) was inspired by his unrequited love for Penelope Rich (nee Devereux), who was offered to him as a potential wife a few years before. Sidney turned her down, she married Lord Robert Rich, and Sidney promptly realised he was in love with her. What follows is a brief analysis of Sonnet 31, which sees Sidney addressing the moon as a potential fellow-sufferer from Cupid’s cruel arrows.

With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies;
How silently, and with how wan a face.
What, may it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case;
I read it in thy looks; thy languished grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about the Venerable Bede

Facts about Bede, Britain’s first historian

1. Bede is known as the ‘Father of English History’. Bede, also known as Saint Bede and as the Venerable Bede, was born in around 672 and died in 735. Bede’s great work is Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, or History of the English Church and People, which he completed in 731. The book charts the establishment of Christianity in the British Isles, particularly in England. In 1899, Bede became the only English-born person to be recognised as a Doctor of the Church.

2. However, Bede wrote around 60 other books in addition to his History. What’s even more remarkable, given the Vikings raids on the British Isles which followed shortly after Bede’s death, most of his books have survived. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s ‘Bermudas’

A reading of a classic Marvell poem

Fancy a voice to a tropical paradise? Andrew Marvell (1621-78) provides just the poem in ‘Bermudas’. Marvell is one of the most critically acclaimed and studied poets of the seventeenth century, and his work is often associated with the Metaphysical Poets. In this post we’re going to offer a brief summary and analysis of ‘Bermudas’, one of his finest poems, which is written in tetrameter rhyming couplets.


Where the remote Bermudas ride
In th’ocean’s bosom unespied,
From a small boat, that row’d along,
The list’ning winds receiv’d this song.
‘What should we do but sing his praise
That led us through the wat’ry maze
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own? Read the rest of this entry