Cowart's Common Room
Batter my Heart by John Donne

This is the poem Withy mentions in her blog. I don't think I understand it very well.

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.

Posted at 19th Dec 2007 - 03:47PM   Posted by Faith   Batter my Heart by John Donne Comments: 8

Withy Brook's Avatar Thank you for that Faith. I did not understand it as it was read by Kit's cousin and I don't understand it any better now. Not entirely sure of it's relevence on the occasion either.

Posted by: Withy Brook on 19th Dec 2007 at 03:56PM

Isn't it about a person's struggle with faith and doing right, the battle between our desire, and god's plan?

Three person God, is Father Son and Holy Ghost. I read it like that, and it seemed to make sense, as I am always questioning what I believe.

Posted by: ZoŽ on 19th Dec 2007 at 04:06PM

Milla's Avatar This is the gorgeous, sublime John Donne who battled with his faith - hence the need for God to batter at his heart rather than merely knock breathe or shine. Love it. Him and Gerard Manley Hopkins, another troubled soul with the most wondrous words.

Posted by: Milla on 19th Dec 2007 at 04:51PM

Peterwf's Avatar I think you have the right idea ZoŽ, the line:
"But am betroth'd unto your enemy;"
implies that one is courting the enemy of God, a relationship that the writer desires to be released from.
To desire God as one's lover is a common Christian concept.

To be taken to God's side in death and be with him as lover for ever is the ultimate goal of a Christian.

Posted by: Peterwf on 19th Dec 2007 at 04:53PM

Withy Brook's Avatar I am beginning to understand. Thank you for all the wisdom. And I think I see now why it was read at the funeral.

Posted by: Withy Brook on 19th Dec 2007 at 05:11PM

Elizabethm's Avatar Utterly utterly fabulous poem. Love the last two lines. I am not a religious person but still makes the hair on the back of the neck stand up.

Posted by: Elizabethm on 19th Dec 2007 at 09:02PM

Exmoorjane's Avatar Crikey, I haven't heard that poem in years. What I had forgotten is how very sexual the imagery's such a passionate poem, akin almost to Sufi poetry with the idea of God as lover.....

Posted by: Exmoorjane on 19th Dec 2007 at 10:37PM

Camilla's Avatar So wonderful, adore this, John Donne was one of the first poets I read many years ago when in London, and as our darling Milla says, another favourite of mine too is Gerard Manley Hopkins, he too a brilliant poet, but both soul searching.


Posted by: Camilla on 19th Dec 2007 at 11:02PM

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