Philip Sidney – “Fool” said my Muse..”


Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

AG: (Sir Philip) Sidney’s Sonnets are pretty funny. Number one, particularly – 176 – a couple of pages later – Remember Anne (Waldman) the other day read, in her reading, she read a sonnet that was.. “My love is like my love and she’s like me, and her heart heart like mine, and mine…” [Editorial note – “Two Hearts – After Sir Philip Sidney”‘  –  (“She’s got my heart and I’ve got hers..”‘)] …(which) was an imitation of Astrophel and Stella, and probably the first..

The last line in this is applicable to everybody in the class, including me, in terms of perplexity, what is that we’re supposed to be writing about? or how do you devise a method of writing.

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,/That the dear She might take some pleasure of my pain,/Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,/Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,—/I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,/Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,/Oft turning others’ leaves, [others’ pages, reading through others’ poetry] to see if thence would flow/Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain./But words came halting forth, wanting [lacking] Invention’s stay:/Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows,/And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way./Thus great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,/Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:/“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”


– That’s one of the great famous lines -“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”– and boy, it’s a really good slogan for anybody trying to fake poetry, make up poetry, synthesize poetry out of, you know what they think it should be or what they read about it from before or what they were taught in school, or what’s the latest on the top ten, or, it’s a question of actually looking inside ad “what are you thinking about?”, what are you actually doing and thinking about is the right subject-matter. So it’s a.. you know.. if you get, like an assignment (“now, I’ve got to write a quatrain, now what will I write it about, what will I write about, let’s see (looking outside is a big mistake when all you’ve got to do is reflect a minute, what is it that’s been bothering you all day and write about that. or what is it that’s been delighting you all day) So it’s literally.. a literal instruction for poetry – -“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.” – This is a sonnet but it’s a weird old sonnet because it’s got a…sonnets are generally iambic pentameter, like the next ones, but this has got six feet in the line (notice the difference? – it looks bigger on the page for one thing, to begin with it looks bigger on the page, see how big it is on the page compared to the other one?) and the reason it looks bigger is because it is bigger, actually, line by line. “Loving/ in truth,/ and fain/ in verse/ my love to show…” –

Well, “Loving in truth, and fain…” – “Loving/ in truth,/ and fain/ in verse/ my love/ to show…” “That the dear..”, no, “That/the dear She (da-da da-da), might take some pleasure..” “the dear She might take some pleasure of my pain”…”the dear She”.. yeah..”the dear She might take some pleasure/Of my pain”

to be continued…..

[Audio for the above can be heard  here, beginning at approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-three-and-a-half minutes in]

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