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Thursday, March 17, 2005

John Donne

I love being a college student. I would never graduate if I could get away with it. I get to read all of this amazing literature, and I get rewarded for it! Too bad it costs a million dollars, and I can't bring Olivia with me to class.

We're reading John Donne (if you haven't gathered by my post title). I have decided that he is the second best thing to come from the Reformation, only trumped by "The Solas," and justification by faith alone. That's a bold statement I know, especially from one who has a hard time understanding poetry. But this is powerful stuff.

English Lit 1 by Devona beings here:
John Donne was writing in the early 1600s. He was born into a Catholic family, and remained Catholic until he did intense, personal, theological study as an adult. He then converted to the Anglican Church, and became a priest. He grew to be so respected in his faith that he became the Dean of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

He is the first poet to use the sonnet to explore religious themes. Here are two of his poems, that are speculated to have been written post conversion. It can't be proven, though, because all of his poems were published at once after he died, and there were no dates to order their composition.

From the Holy Sonnets:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures me,
Must pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breath, 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 O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captivated, 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.