Poetry’s very first uses were to praise and to blame. At least that is the claim of theorists from antiquity through the Renaissance. This class will widely explore these two complex uses of poetry in relation to two very different kinds of passion: divine and erotic. How is the desire for God related to the desire for a beloved woman or man? What forms and figures do poets deploy in attempt to achieve devotional and erotic intimacy? We will begin with the two great models of divine and secular love – David’s Psalms and Petrarch’s sonnets – before turning to our main poetic texts: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Jonson’s Epigrams, Donne’s Songs and Sonnets, Aemelia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, and Herbert’s Temple.
Requirements: three short papers, class exercises, a class presentation, final exam.