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 usurped town to another due, Labor 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.
This is one of John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets,” and perhaps the most famous of them all. Donne, who was a bit of a rake in his younger days, later took orders as an Anglican priest, but he never lost his daring, his passion, his poetic precision, and his intellectual honesty. What are we when we are in sin, and God has not yet taken possession of our hearts? Donne says that we are,…
Listen to this episode with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Word & Song by Anthony Esolen to listen to this episode and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.