Holy Sonnet 14: Batter My Heart

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, blow, 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 dearley’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’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.

John Donne 1572 – 1631

A statue of Donne dressed in his funeral shroud in St Paul’s London. Courtesy: Google Images

Once again I would like to return to this poem by John Donne. In this most honest of poems he reminds us of the struggle to be sanctified – made holy. In terms of a medieval blacksmith beating his iron, or city under attack he calls on God to take him captive because otherwise he would be the “enemie’s” captive. In an almost shocking and ironic line he asks God to “ravish” him to make him “chast”.

Time and again when I read this poem I am struck by Donne’s use of human love as a metaphor for God’s love. Even his relationship with Satan is described in terms of betrothal. But is it really that strange? The relationship between man and wife, at its best, is a wonderful image of love. Christ, himself, speaks in terms of a bride and bridegroom when he refers to himself and the church.

Donne’s poem is also a reminder in the current debate about marriage that Christians are called to demonstrate with their lives and voices what a Biblical view of marriage is. It is the greatest weapon we have in promoting marriage as God intended. After all, Jesus uses it to give us an insight into our relationship with him. This is something John Donne understood.

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Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Holy Sonnet 14: Batter My Heart

  1. Well spoken!

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