John Donne’s “Batter My Heart”

Just popping in to share this poem from Malcolm Guite’s The Word in the Wilderness: A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter. I’ve been enjoying this anthology which includes a wide selection of poets (and Guite’s insightful commentary on their works), as well as some of Guite’s own poetry.

This poem by John Donne, written four hundred years ago, leapt off the page as a poem kindred to my own soul. It speaks the language of Jacob’s midnight wrestling, of Paul’s living sacrifice, the kernel of desire at the heart of Lent’s journey. It is a prayer of raw beauty and power.

Batter My Heart

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,
Labour 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 bethroth’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.

~lg

Lindsey Gallant
Seeker of God in the ordinary, bearer of beautiful news, pilgrim on a life of prayer.

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