“Most rude despair, my daily unbidden guest”. Melanconia e alchimia nell’ultimo sonetto di “Astrophil and Stella”

Milena Romero Allué (Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature, Comunicazione, Formazione e Società, Università degli Studi di Udine)

Abstract

Albeit the sonnet that concludes Astrophil and Stella seems to be modelled on the Petrarchan tradition, it calls in doubt its codes and conventions. This essay aims to demonstrate that Philip Sidney, known among his contemporaries as 'Astrophil' and as 'the English Petrarch', actually overcomes «poor Petrarch’s long-deceased woes» by introducing themes and images rooted in neo-Platonism, in the emblematic tradition, in Hermetic culture and alchemic theories: the strong ties with Giordano Bruno’s Eroici furori and the topos of melancholy shed further light on the profound differences between Sidney’s poetic collection and Petrarch’s Canzoniere. In these pages the last sonnet of Astrophil and Stella is paralleled to the opening one in order to ascertain the interrogative, performative and circular substance of Sidney’s collection, its starting as a metaphorical birth (Genesis) and its ending as a symbolical death (Revelation), as if it were an alchemic rota.

DOI: 10.4424/lam102021-8

Keywords

Philip Sidney; Astrophil and Stella; Neo-Platonism; Hermetic Culture; Alchemy.

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