some poetry

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.

– John Donne, 1618

I’ve never been one for poetry. So it’s odd the acknowledge that this was my favourite piece of writing when I was about 17.

At the time, I think it appealed to my sense that I needed a closer relationship with the Christian god God, whose existence I’d been instructed was FACT from birth. I had no doubts at that point in my life that he existed, but I wanted more. I wanted to be changed and made anew. Actually, I probably just wanted superpowers and reassurance that impending adulthood came with a safety net.

Now I read it and remember the pain especially in those first few lines – the sad, self-pitying denial of my worth as I was, and the desperate desire to place responsibility with a higher power. The poem hung around my head with ferocity in the slow years of the deconversion process.

It’s a good little sonnet. John Donne was a master. My favourite line is now the last one:

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Poor, sad man. Christianity and sex drive can be a challenging mix.