Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Louis Schwartz

Second Advisor

Dr. Anthony Russell

Third Advisor

Dr. Jo McMurtry


The operative figure for describing John Donne's religious poem, La Corona, is not a circle, as it has often been characterized, but a spiral. This figure incorporates the linear narrative and climax of the poem while maintaining the circularity of on-going spiritual experience. Scholars such as Patrick O'Connell and Elizabeth Hodgson are correct in viewing the poem as Donne's "ars poetica sacra" - his apologetic for the religious poet. But such scholars see either a climax and resolution for the speaker of La Corona or an unresolved question of his place as a poet. This paper argues that while the speaker of the poem does reach a spiritual crisis and learns a lesson of faith, that lesson is not finished in the eschatological sense. The linked sonnets of the poem take the reader back to the beginning of the poem with a new understanding and ability to continue the catechism.