In early 17th century literature, there are several poems and texts that praise the beauty of carnal passion and the cleverness of seduction, but there is also a whole genre of text that glorifies the platonic love of a friend. Friendship is a powerful and essential aspect to understanding the connection writers have to their community and the way that society affects their work. In particular, Katherine Philips devotes herself to her friends through her writing and often creates Neoplatonic pieces specifically for female writers in the Society of Friendship. Philips is adamant that sexual love is not the absolute expression of love, but that true friendship is the testament of affection. Although some of her verses can be interpreted as homoerotic desires, an argument can be made either way as to whether or not she intended to venerate her friends or yearn for them.
Although Philips does acknowledge that all forms of love are honorable, she points out that there is a serious distinction between the connection of couples versus those of friends. In the poem “Friendship” by Katherine Philips, the narrator says:
“All Love is sacred, and the marriage-tie
Hath much of honour and divinity.
But Lust, Design, or some unworthy ends
May mingle there, which are despis 'd by Friends.”
This quote shows that “friends” despise the “unworthy ends” and general complications that befall married people, and thus proves that friends have no ulterior motive as lovers might. Marriage was a…