Love's Refinement: Metaphysical Expressions of Desire in Philip Sidney and John Donne

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Title: Love's Refinement: Metaphysical Expressions of Desire in Philip Sidney and John Donne
Author: Knauss, Daniel Philip
Advisors: Robert V. Young, Chair
Harry C. West, Co-Chair
M. Thomas Hester, Co-Chair
Abstract: Contrary to critics who assert that Elizabethan and Jacobean poets can be categorically differentiated from each other according to their philosophical outlook and style, Sir Philip Sidney' shows them to be contiguous and continuous innovators in the Petrarchan love lyric. Both terminates with Astrophil trapped within the conditions he has defined. This novel conclusion, although firmly based in conventional Petrarchan precepts, exposes the issues that constantly loom before any Petrarchan love lyricist; that is, the problematic identities and relationships of images, ideas, and realities; invention, inspiration, and imitation. On the other hand, in their arguments and attitudes toward love and poetry, but several of the most poignant and exploratory poems admit the necessity of idealized image-making while also accepting the inevitable irony in such images. Thus Donne's sequence can be seen as an acknowledgment of Sidney's exposure of the inherent instability involved in poetic attempts to transpose the ideal into the real, but it can also be seen as an innovative response to this problem that entails embracing the instability and irony of Petrarchan lyricism and then using that instability and irony prominently in poems whose speakers are conscious of the limitations of their conceits. As the primary example of this attitude, Donne's speaker in "A nocturnal upon S. Lucies day, Being the shortest day" explores the inherent irony in idealized images of the union of human lovers while yet recognizing the vision and direction they afford as sacramental foretypes of eternity and divine love.
Date: 1998-12-17
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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