Study Guide

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

  • Love

    What, may it be that even in heavenly place
    That busy archer his sharp arrows tries? (3-4)

    Love sure does hurt. Cupid shooting arrows that are "sharp"? Since when has being shot by something sharp that's going fifty miles an hour ever felt good? Okay, sometimes love feels good, but in this poem it hurts a lot.

    Sure, if that long with love-acquainted eyes
    Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case; (5-6)

    Love is a case. This makes us think of it as a mystery ("the detective is on the case"), or as something that is potentially harmful, like when we say "you have a case of the Mondays," or you have "a case of the chicken pox." The point is the speaker doesn't say "lover's joy" or anything like that.

    I read it in thy looks; thy languisht grace
    To me that feel the like, thy state descries. (7-8)

    Here we see that love has the power to change the way we look and move. The moon's "languisht grace" (his "sad steps," perhaps) and his "looks" (a "wan" face) make that pretty clear.

    Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
    Is constant love deemed there but want of wit? (9-10)

    The first sign of the speaker's plight is evident here. He implies that Stella, his beloved, sees his "constant love" as a lack of intelligence, a sign that he's an imbecile or a joke. Stella sure sounds like a mistress of pain here.

    Do they above love to be loved, and yet
    Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? (12-13)

    Clearly, Stella is all about being loved but not loving in return. Love is only a one way street, and this really irritates Astrophel. This partly accounts for his feelings of sadness and pain.

  • Man and the Natural World

    With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
    How silently, and with how wan a face! (1-2)

    The personification here makes the Moon seem like a person, like one of Astrophel's pals even. Here, at the very beginning, Astrophel starts to forge an identity between himself and nature.

    I read it in thy looks; thy languisht grace
    To me that feel the like, thy state descries. (7-8)

    The identity between the moon and Astrophel is made really clear here: the Moon and Astrophel experience the same feelings.

    Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
    Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
    Are beauties there as proud as here they be? (9-11)

    "Fellowship" makes us think of the bond between the Moon and the speaker. However, the repetition of "there" reminds us that, despite the apparent similarities between Astrophel and the Moon, they inhabit different worlds, a "here" and a "there."

    Do they above love to be loved, and yet
    Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? (12-13)

    The repetition of words ("love," "loved," "lovers") and sounds (look at all those O's) is pretty neat. The sameness of sound in these lines imitates, mimics, or reflects the sameness between the moon and Astrophel. Pretty neat, eh?

  • Sadness

    With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
    How silently, and with how wan a face! (1-2)

    Right from the start, we get sadness. "Sad steps," "silently," and "wan." Sure, "silently" and "wan" can mean other things, but the image is of somebody sulking upstairs to their room with their head hanging down.

    Sure, if that long with love-acquainted eyes
    Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case; (5-6)

    A "lover's case," eh? Why not just call it what it is, Astrophel: downright sadness, depression, and frustration. Wait, what about joy? Nope, the "lover's case" (i.e., the lover's situation) in this poem is all about those negative emotions. It's kind of unfair, but hey we didn't write it.

    I read it in thy looks; thy languisht grace
    To me that feel the like, thy state descries. (7-8)

    It's easy to tell when somebody's sad. It's as simple as looking at somebody's "looks" and "reading" them, as if they were a book. Sure, it helps to be feeling the same thing, but that's no bother.

  • Women and Femininity

    Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
    Is constant love deemed there but want of wit? (9-10)

    Apparently Stella thinks Astrophel's "constant love" is a joke, a lack of "wit." Hmm, in a world (the English Renaissance) where "wit" was a really big deal, this is a pretty big blow to Astrophel's ego. He seems to think women are good at wrecking those.

    Are beauties there as proud as here they be? (11)

    This here is an implied generalization about women on Earth: they are all "proud," and not in a good way. Guys that say this kind of stuff are usually having a bad day, and they're usually wrong.

    Do they above love to be loved, and yet
    Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? (12-13)

    We get the same implied generalization here as in line 12. Astrophel now thinks girls just love attention. Some do, but maybe the problem is he's giving her so much attention he's being annoying. That might be why she's scorning him. Duh.

    Do they call virtue there, ungratefulness? (14)

    We've got "there" in this line, "there" in lines 10 and 11, and "above" in line 12. Astrophel is wondering if females are the same in every world and universe. He could also be asking this question and implying that women on Earth are no good and the ones in the heavens aren't as cruel. But that might be a long shot.