Sterrett, Laura. “Motions of the Soul”, Boston College, 2023. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109702.
“Motions of the Soul” explores and analyzes moments in the development of what I call an early modern poetics of religious desire, i.e. desire that has God as its referent. This poetics of religious desire builds upon but also departs from and transforms early modern Petrarchan and Ovidian poetics of secular erotic desire. I examine the poetics of religious desire in sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century metrical psalms, which are verse paraphrases of the lyric prayers that constitute the biblical book of Psalms. While much critical attention has been paid to seventeenth-century religious lyric poetry and its engagement with and response to contemporary secular love lyric traditions, much less attention has been paid to literary metrical psalms, which were the predominant form of religious poetry in the sixteenth century and, some have argued, the parent to the religious lyric poetry that flowered in the seventeenth century. This dissertation analyzes metrical psalms by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Anne Locke, Sir Philip Sidney, and George Herbert, exploring and demonstrating how these poets bring together the poetics of secular love poetry with the biblical poetics of the Psalms and contemporary theological and philosophical discourses on desire in order to develop a poetics of religious desire that illustrates and addresses early modern English culture’s interests and concerns in relation to desiring God.