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 ]
( PDF )

 
 

John Donne Holy Sonnets VII-IX

 
 
VII
AT the round earths imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
From death, you numberlesse infinities
Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe.
But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,
For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,
’Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,
When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.
 
 
VIII
IF faithfull soules be alike glorifi’d
As Angels, then my fathers soul doth see,
And adds this even to full felicitie,
That valiantly I hels wide mouth o’stride:
But if our mindes to these soules be descry’d
By circumstances, and by signes that be
Apparent in us, not immediately,
How shall my mindes white truth by them be try’d?
They see idolatrous lovers weepe and mourne,
And vile blasphemous Conjurers to call
On Jesus name, and Pharisaicall
Dissemblers feigne devotion. Then turne
O pensive soule, to God, for he knowes best
Thy true griefe, for he put it in my breast.
 
 
IX
IF poysonous mineralls, and if that tree,
Whose fruit threw death on else immortall us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot be damn’d; Alas; why should I bee?
Why should intent or reason, borne in mee,
Make sinnes, else equall, in mee more heinous?
And mercy being easie, and glorious
To God; in his sterne wrath, why threatens hee?
But who am I, that dare dispute with thee
O God? Oh! of thine onely worthy blood,
And my teares, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drowne in it my sinnes black memorie;
That thou remember them, some claime as debt,
I thinke it mercy if thou wilt forget.
 
 

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