Poetry

John Donne – Holy Sonnets – Complete Text

John Donne Holy Sonnets

Yesterday (January 22) was the birthday of poet John Donne (d. 1631).

For the church, one of the most significant works by John Donne is his brief collection of 19 holy sonnets . One of these sonnets was featured in our our lectionary poems for this week.  We’re delighted to share the complete text of this poetry collection here. 

[ DOWNLOAD – Complete Holy Sonnets ]
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John Donne Holy Sonnets I-III

 
I
THOU hast made me, And shall thy worke decay?
Repaire me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dimme eyes any way,
Despaire behind, and death before doth cast
Such terrour, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sinne in it, which it t’wards hell doth weigh;
Onely thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can looke, I rise againe;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one houre my selfe I can sustaine;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.
 
 
II
AS due by many titles I resigne
My selfe to thee, O God, first I was made
By thee, and for thee, and when I was decay’d
Thy blood bought that, the which before was thine;
I am thy sonne, made with thy selfe to shine,
Thy servant, whose paines thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheepe, thine Image, and, till I betray’d
My selfe, a temple of thy Spirit divine;
Why doth the devill then usurpe on mee?
Why doth he steale, nay ravish that’s thy right?
Except thou rise and for thine owne worke fight,
Oh I shall soone despaire, when I doe see
That thou lov’st mankind well, yet wilt’not chuse me,
And Satan hates mee, yet is loth to lose mee.
 
 
III
O MIGHT those sighes and teares returne againe
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourne with some fruit, as I have mourn’d in vaine;
In mine Idolatry what showres of raine
Mine eyes did waste? what griefs my heart did rent?
That sufferance was my sinne; now I repent;
’Cause I did suffer I must suffer paine.
Th’hydroptique drunkard, and night-scouting thiefe,
The itchy Lecher, and selfe tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joyes, for reliefe
Of comming ills. To (poore) me is allow’d
No ease; for, long, yet vehement griefe hath beene
Th’effect and cause, the punishment and sinne.
 
 

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