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Entries in John Donne (4)

Sunday
Jan132019

Holy Sonnet 10

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkest thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

- John Donne

Sunday
Jan062019

Holy Sonnet 1

In the fall, I bought a book called The Soul in Paraphrase, which is edited by Leland Ryken. It is a collection of devotional poems. It really is a lovely book. I hope to share some of my favourites over the course of 2019. John Donne (1572-1631) is one of my favourite poets, and in January, I plan to share four of his Holy Sonnets.

Donne followed the pattern of a typical Italian Sonnet. Yes, the language is old fashioned, but if you read the poems aloud, and follow the punctuation, they are much easier to understand.

Holy Sonnet 1 is called "Thou Hast Made me, and Shall Thy Work Decay?"

Thou has made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes any way;
Despair behind and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feebled flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour I can my self sustain;
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

Saturday
Dec202014

Nativity

Nativity
John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

Friday
Apr252014

... except you ravish me

From John Donne's "Holy Sonnets." My favourite of his poems.

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,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd 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.