The Sonnet-Series (Cont.)

In this year, 1595, appeared Barnes's Divine Centurie of Spiritual Sonnets. It is usual to connect this and other collections of sacred lyrics in the sonnet-form, with similar sequences written a few years earlier in France. Barnes's sounets are said to be imitations of the Sonnets Spirituels, published in 1573 and in 1575 by the Abbé Jacques de Billy. But whatever the ultimate source of the sequence, it represents, like Constable's Spirtual Sonnets, a real or pretended reaction against the love-sonnet convention. Barnes exhorts his muse in the first poem to leave singing of earthly passion and mount to heavenly themes. The series adds no new facts of interest, and has never counted for much in Barnes's reputation.