Damn love poems

Come, Sleepe! O Sleepe, the certaine knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balme of woe,
The poor mans wealth, the prisoners release,
Th’ indifferent iudge betweene the high and low!
With shield of proofe shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts Despaire at me doth throw.
O make in me those ciuil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillowes, sweetest bed,
A chamber deafe of noise and blind of light,
A rosie garland and a weary hed:
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Moue not thy heauy grace, thou shalt in me,
Liuelier then else-where, Stellaes image see.

ok that doesn’t fit all that well and due to the version of english some of those u’s should be v’s. That’s Philip Sidney’s Sonnet 39 from the Astrophel and Stella thingymojab. Now here’s the question I was asked and I’m really pissed cause my instructor refuses to see things my way:

Which of the following is NOT true with respect to the sonnet above:
a) the speaker personifies sleep as a bringer of relief and release
b) the speaker welcomes sleep as an escape from despair
c) the speaker dreams about stella
d) the sonnet is petrarchan (italian)

If you don’t know the rules of distinguishing between italian and english sonnets, I can’t really explain them well enough to help you, though I do think I understand them well enough to apply them to this sonnet. If somebody can supply the correct answer to that question with a decent explanation of why that is correct, please let me know.

The only thing a nonconformist hates more than a conformist is another nonconformist who does not conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.

I don’t think your instructor is playing fair. From what little I remember of my college education, this sonnet is actually a little bit of both sonnet forms.

It looks to me to be Italian in form, octave plus sestet, as opposed to 3 quatrains and couplet. But the rhyme scheme is English - abab…,cdcdee; the Italian rhyme scheme is usually abbaabba for the octave and variations on cde for the sestet.

Hope this helps.

Well, it certainly looks like a is true. “Sleepe” is clearly being personified, and “the balme of woe, … the prisoners release,” sounds like relief and release to me.

On to b, which looks to be true also. “With shield of proofe shield me from out the prease [whatever that is] Of those fierce darts Despaire at me doth throw.” Okay, this section is about escaping from the effects of Despair. You could possibly take exception to the “welcomes” bit, but it would be a quibble (then again, in any class where you have to study this kind of garbage and know what “petrarchian” means, isn’t the whole class pretty much BASED on quibbles?).

With c it’s a little trickier. If I’m parsing it right, “thou shalt in me, liuelier than else-where, Stellaes image see” means either

  1. the speaker will dream of Stella, and “Sleepe” will see that image in the speaker’s dreams, or
  2. the speaker looks like Stella except better.

If it’s 2 that’s not much of a love sonnet (“Dear Narcissus, Looking good! Love, Narcissus”) is it? Not that it’s much better if it’s 1, really (“Stella looks okay, but you should see her in my DREAMS! Whoo boy!”). And if it is 1, which seems more likely, then c is true.

Leaving d. I know squat about sonnets, Petrarchian/Italian or otherwise. However, subtle considerations aside, just from casual observation I can’t help but notice that the sonnet isn’t in Italian at all! It’s in English! This seems to be consistent with d being false.

Now, clearly I could be wrong about any number of things, and in fact I probably am. I’m curious to know what you thought was the right answer and what your instructor thought was the right answer.

And I though DiffyQ was confusing.

::Wandering off to ponder pointers to structures of functions and other wonders … click,clack,stumble ouch !!! fade to black ::

well, since the title of the set is Astrophel and Stella (Star lover and star) I’m assuming the speaker is in love with Stella. I agree with both asey and torq. It seems to be a little of both, and of the first 3, c seems to be the weakest. I will just say for now, that I put C, and she said it was D. SHe apparently told the class that it was english not italian, but didn’t have time to explain why, and I still think it’s very much italian if not completely.

The only thing a nonconformist hates more than a conformist is another nonconformist who does not conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.

Thought !!! Proof then post. Honestly, I wish I could absorb just some of the above. I’ve tried, but I just don’t get most of it. If I had to answer questions like those above in school, I would still be changing exhaust pipes at Sears.


I’m an English major, and I could answer this for you.

But instead, I prefer that you do your own fucking homework, like I’ve done through all my years of schooling.

And I wonder when I sing along with you, if everything could ever feel this real
If anything could ever be this good again.

–Foo Fighters

Grad student in English, here. Aseymayo’s right – the instructor isn’t playing fair. But since there’s clearly an octave and a sestet (and only two rhymes in the first eight lines, which is a bit of a tour de force in English), I’m going with Italian. You can tell her I said so :slight_smile:

And, Drain Bead? I think it’s evident that this student has put some serious thought into the assignment, and the answer is NOT obvious. Give her a break.

I didn’t say the answer was obvious (although to me, it perfectly is–the rhyme scheme follows a perfect Shakespearean/English pattern, and even if you didn’t know that, the process of elimination EASILY gets rid of the first three). I said that the purpose of this board is NOT to answer homework questions that can easily be answered by the professor the next time he/she has time to sit down and explain it.

Drainbead, The impression I got was that this is not a homework assignment, but rather a test question that has been answered and marked wrong, and the OP disagrees and wants to know why. This is not laziness–this is showing more interest in Literature than most stuents, who usually just look at the grade and don’t worry about what they missed or why. a far cry from “I’ve got a paper due on the illiad tomorrow. Anybody know anything about it?”

I mean no slam to anyone confused by the structure of this poem, but it IS clearly Shakespearean/Elizabethan. It does not have an octet and a sextet. It has three quatrains and a couplet that follow the Elizabethan rhyme scheme. The only “gray area” is caused by the fact that the first two quatrains use the same rhymes. Kaje, I sympathize, but to me the telling point in your initial post was

It has been my experience that the ability to explain something is a good litmus test for how well you understand. In this case, I am afraid, the answer is, “not well enough”. That said, I find the instructor’s unwillingness to explain the matter in detail and clarify your uncertainty to be disgraceful.

The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity

To me, it looked like a rather lame attempt to get a solid argument that would back up a try at getting the points for that question. Trust me, I know every slacker trick in the book, because if I didn’t do them in high school, I’ve seen them done in college. The OP couldn’t argue it well enough, so he/she went to us to get a solid answer.

I’m sorry it wasn’t the answer you were looking for. I think your teacher was pretty nasty for not explaining it, though–I think every MC test I ever took was explained in detail when it was handed back.

Nope. The major breaks in syntax and meaning come after lines 8 and 11, as they do in a Petrarchan sonnet. If this were a Shakespearean sonnet, you’d have a similar break before the final couplet.

Whether or not the location of the breaks in syntax and meaning matter depend on the level of the class. In my experience, we rarely got into anything other than rhyme scheme in any intro class. Then again, I haven’t had a multiple choice question in English since high school, and I KNOW we didn’t discuss anything other than rhyme scheme then when determining the difference between an Italian or English sonnet. Given that, I think the question becomes a bit more clear-cut.

Sorry, Fretful Porpentine, but it’s a Shakespearean sonnet. IIRC from my Shakespeare course in college, breaks in syntax have nothing to do with the type of a sonnet, only the rhyme scene.

From the New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics:

I’d say that Sidney’s sonnet definitely fits the first pattern.

Incidentally, the guy who invented the Italian sonnet was not Petrarch but Giacomo de Lentini. He used the rhyme scheme abababab cdecde.

But (sigh) Drain Bead’s probably right, most English teachers don’t get into this stuff. I’ll stop being picky and pedantic.

You’re a grad student in English, right? You’re probably used to overthinking things. However, I can attest that overthinking things is probably the WORST thing you can do in an intro-level class. I’d imagine that this question would trip up a lot of people, though, because they tried too hard.

To be honest, although I recognized the fact that the sonnet was English by the couplet at the end more than anything else, and I can see where it might trip people up, there are two ways to get to the answer. The preceding three choices can be easily eliminated by even a slightly shallow reading of the poem. When all else fails, try working backwards. I’m an excellent multiple-choice test taker, if I do say so myself, and that’s how I work if I’m not sure of an answer.

I bet if each of ya all translated that poem to right proper english, you’d all have your own translations. That them there spelling & grammar is quite weird if I did say so meself.