Loving in Truth as a Love Poem
Sir Philip Sidney’s sonnet Loving in Truth, taken from his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella has a plain theme. This is love, rather true love. The poet’s contention here is to find an adequate inspiration for his verse to be written in praise of his lady-love. The poet, as a sincere lover, is eager to reveal his love to her through his verse.
Loving in Truth is a conventional Petrarchan sonnet, and as such it is naturally inspired by the theme of love. The poet’s love is intense, but he lacks adequate expressions to give vent to the same. So he seeks inspiration and illumination from other sources from other master poets. He expects that their verses will teach him to speak out his deep and unfulfilled love for the lady in touching words. But he fails.
The words do not come out spontaneously from him and halt, perhaps, for the want of the spontaneity of feeling. But yet, the lover in the poet is adamant. He must speak out his love in his verse and finally invents wherein lies his true inspiration—
“Look in thy heart and write.”
Loving in Truth is a love poem, but love here, as expressed, is not sentimental or burdened with the boredom of conventional love poetry. There is a graceful variation in the poet’s mood of love by the play of his wit and intellectual smartness. In fact, the eager lover in the poet speaks out with much wit and reason. A steady flow of the logical sequence of thoughts to write at the conclusion is very clearly marked in the poem.
There is a chain of arguments, well conceived, here. The poet-lover is genuinely in love. He (i) wants to show, with all pain and strain, this in his verse, appropriately, written in praise of the lady. He hopes that his poetic effort may (ii) please her and that her (iii) pleasure may lead her to (iv) read his verse. This reading may (v) enlighten her of his genuine attachment to her. This may, again, lead her (iv) to pity him and her pity many draw her to (viii) favour him with her love. This clearly bears out the intellectual vigour of Sidney’s sonnet to give relief from the boring sentimentality of conventional love poetry.
Of course, this vigorous intellectual form does not affect the qualities of Sidney’s poem as one of love. The feeling of love here definitely sounds deep. It does not grow stale under the logically and arguments but rather gains a momentum by variety and novelty. The taste of love is made here more appeasing by the sauce of the poet’s wit and logic.
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