Batter My Heart

As a teenager, I stumbled upon the poet, John Donne, a contemporary of Shakespeare, and instantly identified with his passions, longings, and failings (“no man is an island…”). I still do. Yesterday, thanks to a smart, soulful teenager who blogs under the name of Squid, I rediscovered this exquisite cry of Donne’s heart. The words are full of unfamiliar and unexpected contrasts, so read carefully, and if you will, prayerfully. 

Fall-last leaf

Holy Sonnet XIV

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,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d 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.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Poetry, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Batter My Heart

  1. Amazing. They, in that age, really knew how to pour out their heart. I wonder if there is a website dedicated to his writings.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love Donne, a profound poet and extraordinary essayist. 17th Century poets seem to be most known by the general public for their romantic/love poetry. However, a good many of them penned beautiful verses about their faith in God. Thank you for reminding me of this gem! You do blog about the most wonderful things!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pam Dollard says:

    It takes a desperate courage to pray such a prayer. Oh, that more of us would share it.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. He goes so far, you swallow your pride again and again with each new line

    Liked by 1 person

  5. @vapor_sage says:

    I love this community after some interaction with an English Lit teacher I was so curious about Donne I got the book Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel. It is slow intricate reading for sure but his Love of God is throughout this wonderful volume

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dang, it was pretty much perfect timing that I found this. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sandi says:

    Donne was one of my favorite poets when I was in college. Today, I am feeling emotionally fragile, and I struggled with the forcefulness of this poem (irrational, I know). I really liked your photo, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Squid says:

    Glad to be of service, Mr. Mitch! I appreciate the sweet intro too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    In this societies desire to neuterize men and women and make them non-genderless, we forget the depth of people. Our poet shows that passion and creative word choices can be had by men. God did not invent cookie cutter people, man did. In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

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