Publication Date

Spring 4-18-2012


College of Arts and Sciences




John Donne, Holy Sonnets, religion, spiritual tension


During the Elizabethan era, England experienced religious turmoil that ripped apart its people and saw repercussions in every area of its society. John Donne lived, wrote, and preached during this tumultuous period, and his writing directly reflects the tension of the times. More so than historical commentary however, his poetry, and his Holy Sonnets in particular, bears witness to the far greater battle waging itself within Donne. Within a study of Donne’s life, both professional and personal, and a parallel study of his works in light of the context of his life, a sense of overwhelming tension becomes apparent. The Holy Sonnets contain the clearest and most precise images of this tension between Donne’s flesh and spirit.