Favourite Poets; John Donne – Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God

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.
This was my first introduction to the work of John Donne, and I have to admit that when I saw holy sonnet I sniffed like the cynical thing I am. I’ll also admit that, heathen that I am, my first introduction to John Donne (that I paid attention to, anyway) was actually from it being mentioned in fanfic. Which proves that fanfic is just as much a contribution to literature (and an eye-opener – in more ways than one) as any novel you might choose to add to your Kindle to read list.
This poem is lustful, romantic, kind of kinky, and I love it for that. There’s the sense of struggle, the yearning that is wanting something you either can’t have, or the sinful feeling of getting that very thing that you wanted. There’s also, let’s be honest, a very mould me, break me, have your way with me sentiment throughout, which, like I said, kinky.
How a poem that starts with the word holy can be quite so wanton, so full of want and need, makes me very happy indeed.

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