What kind of sonnet is Sonnet 24 of Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella? Here is the sonnet:

Rich fools there be, whose base and filthy heart
Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow,
And damning their own selves to Tantal’s smart,
Wealth breeding want, more blest, more wretched grow.
Yet to those fools heaven such wit doth impart,
As what their hands do hold, their heads do know
And knowing, love, and loving, lay apart
As sacred things, far from all danger’s show.
But that rich fool, who by blind fortune’s lot
The richest gem of love and life enjoys,
And can with foul abuse such beauties blot,
Let him, deprived of sweet but unfelt joys,
Exiled for aye from those high treasures which
He knows not, grow in only folly rich!

It seems like an English sonnet by rhyme scheme, but the last two lines seem like a part of a longer stanza and not a couplet. So is it more like a Petrarchan sonnet?

1 Answer 1


The rhyme scheme is ABAB ABAB CDCD EE, which, superficially at least, corresponds to three quatrains and a couplet.

The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet uses two "closed quatrains" for the first eight lines and typically goes ABBA ABBA CDC CDC or ABBA ABBA CDE CDE (with other variations for the sestet).

The rhyme scheme of an English or Shakespearean sonnet typically uses three "open quatrains" followed by a rhyming couplet: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

From the point of view of the rhyme scheme, sonnet 24 looks like a Shakespearean sonnet.

However, the volta comes after the eighth line, like in a Petrarchan sonnet, instead of the twelfth, as in a Shakespearean sonnet. For this reason, the form is somewhere in between the Petrarchan and the Shakespearean sonnet.

  • The sonnet is a dig at Robert Rich. Sidney's "Stella" was Penelope Devereux, who married Rich in 1581. The poem criticizes Rich as being an unworthy husband for Stella/Penelope.
    – verbose
    Apr 1, 2021 at 7:02

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