Sunday, March 21, 2010

Batter My Heart - John Donne

For this week's sabbath sonnet I post one of the holy sonnets of John Donne. Pictured here is the sonnet from a 1639 edition of Donne's poetry that I own -- one of my great treasures. The little book is the same size as a prayer book. Devotional poetry is poetry of piety and praise. But it is also private, something that you carry with you in a little book, or in a little poem of just over a dozen lines.  Donne's imagery is bold and his tone far different than the sentimental verse of so many religious writers. This guy is in the trenches of spiritual warfare, and he's calling in the General.

Holy Sonnet XIV - Batter My Heart
by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful pleading and submission. Wouldn't it be wonderful to maintain such a desire?