Everything you need to understand or teach Astrophel and Stella.
Astrophel (or Astrophil) and Stella is a poetic sequence made up of 108 sonnets and 11 songs by Sir Philip Sidney. While many of the poems circulated individually in manuscripts before the sequence's publication in 1591 (five years after Sidney's death), evidence suggests that the order in which the poems are arranged was chosen by Sidney himself. As a unit, the poems tell a loose narrative of the lover/speaker (Astrophel) suffering from unrequited love from the Beloved (Stella) and the ensuing pain he must endure in her presence. Sidney uses multiple variations of the Petrarchan sonnet throughout the sequence, relying heavily on paradox, oxymoron, and direct address to craft the abstract narrative. Some critics have suggested that the speaker, Astrophel, is Sidney himself while the Beloved, Stella, is Lady Penelope Devereux (later Penelope Rich) who was betrothed to Sidney early in life but ultimately ended up marrying Robert Rich. The sequence, like many other sequences that would follow, engages with the themes of unrequited love, poetry writing, self-alienation, and power.