This book is an important study of European love poetry from Dante to Milton. It contrasts some of the ways whereby major Renaissance poets express a conflict between sensual love and spiritual love. For these poets love arouses metaphysical disquiet, throwing into relief the frailties and contradictions of human nature. The argument grows out of a close comparison of passages in Dante's Divina Comedia, and Milton's Paradise Lost. The extensive survey of conceptions of sacred and secular love is the basis for studies of other major texts: Petrarch's I Trionfi, Michelangelo's love poems, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Donne's love poetry and prose writings, Caroline lyrics, Vaughan's Silex Scintillans, and Milton's Paradise Regained. Though presenting a wide-ranging account of the evolution of ideas of love from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, the book is essentially concerned with the way in which contrasting attitudes are experienced and proved in the poetry, and contribute to each poet's distinctive understanding of love.