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 XIII-XV

 
 
XIII
WHAT if this present were the worlds last night?
Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwelly
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Teares in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc’d head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,
Which pray’d forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
No, no; but as in my idolatrie
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pitty, foulnesse onely is
A signe of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign’d,
This beauteous forme assures a pitious minde.
 
 
XIV
BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend,
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am bethroth’d unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,’untie or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
 
 
XV
WILT thou love God, as he thee? then digest,
My Soule, this wholsome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy brest.
The Father having begot a Sonne most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne’r begonne)
Hath deign’d to chuse thee by adoption,
Coheire to’his glory,)and Sabbaths endlesse rest;
And as a robb’d man, which by search doth finde
His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy’it againe:
The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine,
Us whom he’had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde.
’Twas much, that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.
 
 

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