Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday sonnet: John Donne

John Donne was a very religious man. And he was a spectacular writer who put together poetry that was groundbreaking in his day and still ripe for analysis in this age. Here, today, is one of his Holy Sonnets, one of many complex pieces that illustrate his relationship with God.

This poem was written in 1633. The placements of the commas and apostrophes are accurate, and they demonstrate how poets used to struggle to maintain meter in their works. In this case, as in many poems of the age, the meter is iambic pentameter.


Batter my heart, three-personed 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 O, to no end;
Reason, Your viceroy'in me, me should defend,
But is captíved, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love You,'and would be lovéd 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.

Rhyme scheme: abba abba cd cd ee

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