Andrew Lansdown

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John Donne

Four poems by John Donne:

1. “Holy Sonnet X”

2. “Holy Sonnet XIV”

3. “Holy Sonnet VII”

4. “Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”

 

 

Holy Sonnet X

 

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 be,

Much 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, and 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.

 

John 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 an usurped town, to another due,

Labour to admit you, but O, 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 even chaste, except you ravish me.

 

John Donne

 

 

 

 

Holy Sonnet VII

 

At the round earth’s imagined corners blow

Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise

From death, you numberless infinities

Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,

All whom the flood did, and fire shall, overthrow,

All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,

Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes

Shall behold God, and never taste death’s woe.

But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,

For, if above all these my sins abound,

’Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,

When we are there. Here on this lowly ground

Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good

As if Thou’dst sealed my pardon, with Thy blood.

 

John Donne

 

 

 

 

Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness

 

Since I am coming to that holy room,

Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,

I shall be made thy music; as I come

I tune the instrument here at the door,

And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown

Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie

Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown

That this is my south-west discovery,

Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;

For, though their currents yield return to none,

What shall my west hurt me? As west and east

In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,

So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are

The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?

Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,

All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,

Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

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.

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord;

By these his thorns, give me his other crown;

And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,

Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:

“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

 

John Donne

 

 

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