During the 17th century literary was characterized by an increase in introspection and self-criticism with more acute psychological analysis of human feelings and experiences and an emergent emphasis on realism. The need for introspection and psychological examinations of human moods led to the appearance of the Metaphysical poetry, which was in part already present in Shakespeare sonnets, but that found full expression in John Donne’s poetry. The austere view of life of the puritans found its counterpart in the Cavalier Poets, a number of minor poets inspired by Ben Johnson, who wrote about women, wine and song following ideals of elegance and courteous manners. In this poets and their view of appreciation of life’s ephemeral beauty we see the influence of Latin poets such as Catullus.
A difference with the poetry that characterized the Renaissance was in the remarkable development of religious poetry which found its most well-known authors in Donne and Herbert; the former expressing it with intense unconventionality, the latter with a devotional verse. As puritans mistrusted fiction, prose grew less artificial. The true puritan literary forms were the sermons and spiritual biographies (for example, “The Pilgrim Progress” by John Bunyan).