Study Guide

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

By Sir Philip Sidney

The Sky

The moon is in the sky, and the speaker repeatedly refers to this heavenly realm. In this poem, it represents an alternative world or universe, something that is different from the world Astrophel inhabits. He keeps referring to it because he's looking for answers; he's curious if all the pain that accompanies love in this world also accompanies love in that world. The point is, he wants to feel or believe that he's not the only one suffering; if it turns out that life in the heavens is just as hard, well that is certainly some small comfort—maybe. The speaker isn't sure if things could ever be as bad as they are on Earth.

  • Line 1: The moon climbs the "skies" with "sad steps." This is our first clue that we're dealing with a different world. Humans can't "climb" the skies. Well, neither can the moon—at least not literally—so this is personification, which we'll meet again and again this poem.
  • Lines 3-4: The speaker asks the moon if Cupid, that "busy" little archer, is also causing mischief in his "heavenly place." "Heavenly" mostly refers to the location of the moon (in the sky or heavens), but it also shows us that the speaker is wondering if the apparently carefree and holy world of the sky is also affected by the pains of love.
  • Lines 9-10: "There" refers to the "heavenly place" of line 3. Astrophel wonders if the heavenly bodies perceive love as a "want of wit," which, he implies, women do on Earth.
  • Line 11: The speaker again asks, with a tone of incredulity, if things are the same up "there." In these lines, he wonders if the personified heavenly females are as "proud" (stuck up) there as they are on Earth.
  • Lines 12-14: The poem concludes with the same tone, only this time the speaker seems even more exasperated. He asks if the equivalents of women in heaven "scorn" their lovers even as they appear to enjoy being loved. Do they ludicrously call "virtue" a form of "ungratefulness"? The personification here and elsewhere is the speaker's way of thinking of both the heavens and the Earth as parallel worlds.

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