Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Batter My Heart: John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14

More John Donne this week, as promised. This contemporary of Shakespeare has been criticized for writing poetry that's too intellectually convoluted, but his Holy Sonnet 14 must be one of the most emotional love poems to God in the English language. I will let the master speak for himself.

Holy Sonnet 14
by John Donne
Batter my heart, three-personed 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 usurpsed town to'another due,
Labour to'admit You, but O, to no end.
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captive, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love You, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed 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.
Read it slowly. Read it aloud. And marvel at the sheer beauty.