Study Guide

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

By Sir Philip Sidney

Sadness

If this poem is about love, it's about being sad. Or rather, it's about how love can be the source of a whole lot of sadness. This poem's title and first line, after all, begin with the phrase "With how sad steps." If that's not a definite indication that sadness will be a big part of this sonnet, we don't know what is. "With How Sad Steps," however, isn't just all "woe is me." It's also about what we do when we're sad and how we try to make sense of it. In this case, Astrophel talks to the moon, and starts to think that the moon is sad as well. Sometimes, knowing that somebody is sad makes us feel just a little better. Misery loves company, right?

Questions About Sadness

  1. Have you ever been so sad that you talked to the moon? Can you relate to Astrophel at all? Why or why not?
  2. Does Astrophel think love is always associated with sadness? Or is he just having a bad day? How can you tell?
  3. How is the moon, or nighttime in general, associated with sadness at all (symbolically, that is)? Does Astrophel talk about the moon because he doesn't want to confront his own pain? Why or why not?

Chew on This

The poem points out how sadness can affect us so deeply that we don't even resemble our normal selves. We become our sad selves, which is… well, sad.

Don't blame our man Astrophel. It's natural to want to talk to somebody when we're sad, even if that somebody is just the moon.

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