Holy Sonnet 14

June 3, 2006 at 12:50 am Leave a comment

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 oh, 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 enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Pavi's recording of Rilke two weeks back made me think of this Donne sonnet, if only for the 'Love poems to God' connection.

This is a fascinating take on that theme, not only because of the intensely physical, almost brutal way that Donne connects the idea of lover and God, but because of the baroqueness of the poem's contradictions, the back and forth of its opposites, the sense of disquiet, of dissonance, that Donne creates through his inversions. The poem is all of 14 lines long, but the logic of it is complex, even tortuous, and its lines lend themselves to almost endless exploration, so that you can read this poem again and again, discovering new joys in it each time you do.

(Note: Text taken from "John Donne: The Complete English Poems", edited by A.J.Smith, Penguin, 1971)


Entry filed under: English, Falstaff, John Donne.

The Castaway The Pearl

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