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 usurped town, to another due,
Labor 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 betrothed 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.

John Donne, 17th Century

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6 thoughts on “

  1. Laura,

    See why I love John Donne's work so much?! Wow. Those last two lines are exceptional!

    Here's the start of his equally rich poem called “The Cross:”
    Since Christ embraced the cross itself, dare I
    His image, th' image of His cross, deny?
    Would I have profit by the sacrifice,
    And dare the chosen altar to despise?
    It bore all other sins, but is it fit
    That it should bear the sin of scorning it?

    Mmmm. Rich.

  2. How about THIS one?? A commenter on Tim Challies' blog said this would make a great epitaph:

    Look Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
    As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
    May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I was thinking about Donne just the other day – I think there are three English Christian poets who stand head and shoulders above the others – Donne, Herbert and Hopkins. I'm reading Herbert at the moment.

    (I was also trying to fill some other categories: greatest female novelist {no contest}, greatest female short-story writer {no contest}, greatest English novelist {that's a toughie}, greatest American novelist {no idea}).

    Anyway, A Hymn to God the Father is still my favourite Donne poem. I cry whenever I read it. Or recite it, for that matter.

    I want my epitaph to be, “His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”

  4. Oh, oh, Hopkins! Pied Beauty and God's Grandeur are two of my all-time favorite poems. Hmmm… Guesses for your “other categories”

    Female Novelist: Austen
    Female Short Story Writer: ??

    I would say greatest English novelist would be someone like Austen — I absolutely cannot get past her books. But you're right, it's a tough call. American novelist? Philip Roth is an amazing writer. But best? So hard to decide!!

  5. Well, I'm not going to tell you who is the greatest female short-story writer. You'll just have to work it out.

    In regards to Jane Austen, the philosopher Gilbert Ryle was once asked if he ever read novels. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “All six of them, every year.” (From Anthony Lane, Nobody’s Perfect.)

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