John Donne, Divine Poems

Discussion in 'Poetry and Song' started by VirginiaHuguenot, Feb 19, 2005.

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  1. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    One of my favorites by Donne:

    Holy Sonnet XIV

    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 a usurped town, to another due,
    Labour to admit you, but oh, 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 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.

    [Edited on 7-18-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  2. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

  3. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    One of my favorites from John Donne is the following stanza from his Divine Poems, Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness...

    We think that Paradise and Calvary,
    Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
    Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
    As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
    May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

  4. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Andrew, thank you for sharing that! That has been one of my favorites for years. I remember studying that and it seems like I even memorized it back in college . . . but I couldn't quote it now.

    I need to print that excellent sonnet out and hang it here in my office cube.
  5. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Joseph, You're welcome. This poem has been an inspiration to me as well. God bless!
  6. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    That last line is shocking and wonderful. This is definitely one of my favorites, also.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Ditto to this and Francis Thompson's "The Hound of Heaven."
  8. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Yes. I am partial to The Hound of Heaven too, though the author was a Roman Catholic. It is powerful.
  9. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    John Donne
  10. weinhold

    weinhold Puritan Board Freshman

    Andrew, thanks for posting on Donne. He's one of my favorites! I'm wondering, thought, what you make of his use of clearly sensual and erotic language in his religious poems. Maybe we should keep Samuel Johnson's critique in mind as we read Donne. He wrote of Donne's metaphysical conceits that they are "two unlike ideas yoked together by violence." Your thoughts?
  11. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Good question. I can't help though but look back to the Bible, especially the Song of Solomon, or the example of Isaac sporting with Rebekah (Gen. 26.8), and appreciate the Biblical and Puritan (as opposed to Victorian, not saying that Donne was a Puritan) perspective of sensuality in the context of holy and chaste love, not only between a man and his wife, but between the Church, the Bride of Christ, and the Bridegroom.

    Edward Taylor is a Puritan who wrote in similar vein based on the Song of Solomon, as illustrated here.

    [Edited on 7-15-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  12. weinhold

    weinhold Puritan Board Freshman

    Some really great points, Andrew. I find this perspective on worship and sexuality fascinating. I thought your comments about the biblical witness to be particularly fine. Thanks!

    P.S. Let's talk more about Donne!
  13. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian


    Do you have a favorite work by Donne?
  14. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    We sing (sorry EP's!) "Hymn to God the Father" at church to a really beautiful tune our liturgist composed.
  15. weinhold

    weinhold Puritan Board Freshman

    A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

    As virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
    Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

    So let us melt, and make no noise, 5
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
    'Twere profanation of our joys
    To tell the laity our love.

    Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ; 10
    But trepidation of the spheres,
    Though greater far, is innocent.

    Dull sublunary lovers' love
    "”Whose soul is sense"”cannot admit
    Of absence, 'cause it doth remove 15
    The thing which elemented it.

    But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is,
    Inter-assurèd of the mind,
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss. 20

    Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    Though I must go, endure not yet
    A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to aery thinness beat.

    If they be two, they are two so 25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ;
    Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if th' other do.

    And though it in the centre sit,
    Yet, when the other far doth roam, 30
    It leans, and hearkens after it,
    And grows erect, as that comes home.

    Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
    Thy firmness makes my circle just, 35
    And makes me end where I begun.
  16. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian


    My favorite poem by Donne is the OP. My favorite of his prose writings is Meditation XVII:

  17. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

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