Study Guide

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies! Questions

By Sir Philip Sidney

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Taking a quick look here, we count five question marks. The poem is 14 lines, so that's an average of a question every three lines. The reason the speaker asks so many questions is because he just can't figure out Stella's behavior. It just makes no sense to him. So he asks the Moon, in an attempt to determine if women everywhere act the same. Yeah, it sounds a little absurd, but the passion in Astrophel's questions, his frustration, are the marks of a guy who's pretty upset. You gotta respect that.

  • Lines 3-4: Astrophel's first question has to do with the Moon's behavior. Here, the question is one of those questions that the speaker is pretty sure has an affirmative answer. It's pretty much a statement, if you think about it. 
  • Line 10: The certainty of Astrophel's question in line 4 gives way to some frustrated doubt here. Astrophel wonders if constant love is deemed lack of wit in the heavens. Clearly, he implies that that is the case on Earth. 
  • Line 11: The same sense of doubt is in this question as well, along with a dose of anger that will increase. Astrophel asks if beauties are proud up in the sky just like they are on Earth. 
  • Lines 12-13: It's easy to detect an increasing sense of frustration and urgency in these questions. Here, the question is longer, more complex, and angrier. Apparently, on Earth women like all the attention they get from men but then turn around and "scorn" them. Astrophel is dumbfounded and upset. 
  • Line 14: Well, it seems by the end Astrophel tones it down just a bit. This final question—a short query about whether or not virtue is treated as "ungratefulness" in the heavens—is sharp, critical, and to the point.

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