John Donne's Batter My Heart to Begin his Feast Day

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.

–Holy Sonnet XIV


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Spirituality/Prayer

One comment on “John Donne's Batter My Heart to Begin his Feast Day

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks for posting this, Kendall. It’s one of my alltime favorite John Donne poems. FWIW, I regard Donne as the greatest preacher ever to adorn the pulpit at St. Paul’s, London. His superb sermons have seldom been equalled for their combination of eloquence and spiritual depth, and never excelled. He shows us that in some ways the greatest of the 17th century Anglican leaders surpassed the best of the 16th century leaders (IMHO). Anyway, Donne, like Cranmer and Shakespeare, has greatly enriched the English literary heritage. Donne (who died in 1631) excelled at both poetry and theology, whereas Cranmer was a genius when it came to creating immortal liturgical prose, and Shakespeare, of course, at matchless dramas. But ++Cranmer was lousy at poetry, and Shakespeare was extremely coy and reserved about his religious convictions.

    However, we celebrate John Donne’s life and witness today, not juast because he faithfully used his incredible poetic gifts so well, but because he was also a faithful pastor. Unlike some other deans of great English cathedrals, he cared far more about earning the approval of God than of men. Both his moving poetry and his inspiring sermons flowed forth from a deep inner fountain of genuine piety, because he steadfastly cultivated a hidden life of prayer and intimacy with his Maker and Savior.

    David Handy+