Robert Sidney/Sonnet 25
|← Robert Sidney/Sonnet 24||Sonnet 25 (“Yow that take pleasure in yowr cruelty...” / “You that take pleasure in your cruelty...” ...)
||Robert Sidney/Sonnet 26 →|
The Sonnet 25 is witty exercise modelled on the Neoplatonism expounded by Ficino, and cannot be properly understood unless its intellectual background is recognised. The idea of the beloved as a type of reflection of the deity implicit in the second quatrain’s stressing of her perfections and her sovereignty, is more esoterically developed in the sestet, which alludes to Fincho’s teaching that it was divine power’s wish to propagate its own perfection—a kind of love for itself—which created the universe. The entreaty to the beloved in the sestet’s first line:
O love yourself: be you yourself your care
Directly echoes Spenser’s line, itself echoing Fincho, describing how the ‘high eternal power’ begot the universe:
It loves itself, because itself was fair (An Hymne of Heavenly Love, line 29, publ. 1596)
The term acts in line 10 od Robert’s sonnet is adopted straight from Ficino, where actus is the term used for the divine power as manifested in creation...
The sonnet’s final couplet involves the familiar comparison of the beloved to the sun and thus gives a fresh turn to the continued idea of her as a reflection of the divine creator, and the same paragraph of Ficino’s Commentary must have prompted Robert here too.
The astronomical image in this final couplet emphasises once more the vast distance between bellowed and lover, for the lover calls himself a point (Latin punctum) in just same sense as Milton’s Adam calls the earth ‘this punctual spot’ when he views it in relation to the whole Universe (Paradise Lost, VIII. 23).