Most people read “No man is an island” at some point in their school years, but do not realize that John Donne — their author — was also an astounding poet. His Holy Sonnets are some of my favorite words ever put to paper. He was very scandalous in his day. Not only because of his poetry mixed spiritual thoughts with very human actions, but also because of his rather interesting personal life. Do some research. See what you can learn about Mr. John Donne.
Here is my favorite of the Holy Sonnets.
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,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved 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.
Read it again. Read it out loud. Listen to the battering ram of God’s love as he breaks, burns, and blows our human nature away. Do you hear how Donne’s heart is torn between his love for God and the earthly things that pull on his flesh? Are we not all in love with God and yet betroth’d unto his enemy because of our own sin?
I plan to share more beauty from Mr. Donne over the next few weeks. Here is a website where you can find all his works — and even hear some of them read. Poetry really is meant to be read aloud.
Ahhh, John Donne.