Like other creative persons of the period, Sidney also came under the influence of sonneteering. Thus a series of sonnets addressed to a single lady, expressing and reflecting on the developing relationship between the poet and his love grew up. Though the story does not have to be literal autobiography and questions of ‘sincerity’ are hardly answered, Sidney’s love for Stella, on the artistic level, has been traced to love-affair of the poet’s own life. Stella is said to be Penelope Devereux, who did not or could not reciprocate the love and married Lord Rich. It is, in fact, owing to the predisposition of the mind created by the Romantic tradition of subjective art that we sometimes relate and interpret the works of other writers of other periods before the Romantics to and in terms of their biographical accounts. It must be remembered that with Loving in Truth the Astrophil and Stella theme-sequence opens. Significantly the opening sonnet presents the dual theme of how to write good poetry and how to win the favour of a beloved. The poet even implies the question whether it is possible to a good poem aiming at winning the beloved. At the very beginning of the sonnet Sidney makes it clear that he writes the sonnet in order to win Stella. Here he employs the simplest means—which any lover does, namely, the pain-pleasure-knowledge-pity-love method: “… 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”.
The word ‘pain’ has, however, a double meaning here; in one sense it refer to the pains of love and in another sense it refers to the hardships of creative writing. This implies that poetry is not just inspirational or impulsive, but a long struggle with words, emotions and feelings. Theoretically Sidney was influenced by both Aristotle and Horace. He believed that good poetry must both...