Advertisements

Blog Archives

A Short Analysis of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella 41: ‘Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance’

Written in the early 1580s, Astrophil and Stella is the first substantial sonnet sequence in English literature, and sees Sidney exploring his own life-that-might-have-been with Penelope Rich (whom he turned down), through the invented semi-autobiographical figures of ‘Astrophil’ (‘star-lover’) and ‘Stella’ (‘star’). Sonnet 41, which begins ‘Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance’, may have been inspired by a real-life tournament at Whitehall in May 1581, and sees Astrophil attributing his success as a jouster and horseman to Stella, who ‘Sent forth the beams which made so fair my race.’

Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance
Guided so well that I obtain’d the prize,
Both by the judgment of the English eyes
And of some sent from that sweet enemy France;
Horsemen my skill in horsemanship advance,
Town folks my strength; a daintier judge applies
His praise to sleight which from good use doth rise;
Some lucky wits impute it but to chance;
Others, because of both sides I do take
My blood from them who did excel in this, Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

The Best Poems for March

Five of the finest poems for the month of March

This is the third entry in our poetry calendar: you can read our poetry recommendations for January and our pick of the best February poems in previous posts. Now, it’s the turn of March, which heralds the arrival, or return, of spring. What are the best March poems in the English language? Here are five of our favourites.

John Clare, ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar: March’. The underrated nature poet John Clare (1793-1864) wrote an entire sequence of poems about nature and the English countryside at particular times of the year, and in the March entry in his ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’, he salutes the way ‘March month of “many weathers” wildly comes / In hail and snow and rain and threatning hums / And floods’ and ‘love teazd maidens from their droning wheel / At the red hour of sunset sliving steal / From scolding dames to meet their swains agen / Tho water checks their visits oer the plain…’ Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’

Written in October 1961 as she was beginning to find her own distinctive poetic voice, ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ is one of the most widely discussed and analysed of Sylvia Plath’s poems. This is perhaps inevitable, in a poem which is so loaded with symbols; our instinct as readers, and as literary critics, is to decode the symbol or discover what the poem really ‘means’. You can read ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ here before proceeding to our analysis below.

Sylvia Plath wrote ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ in 1961 while she was suffering from writer’s block. Plath’s husband, the poet Ted Hughes, suggested that she write a poem about the view outside their bedroom window. Hughes later recalled that, from the window of their house in Devon, they could see a yew tree in the churchyard to the west of their house. Read the rest of this entry