John Donne


    From Holy Sonnets
    Sonnet 5
    I am a little world made cunningly
    Of elements and an angelic sprite,
    But black sin hath betrayed to endless night
    My world’s both parts, and oh both parts must die.
5   You which beyond that heaven which was most high
    Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
    Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
    Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
    Or wash it, if it must be drowned no more.
10   But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire
    Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
    And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
    And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
    Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.
    Sonnet 10
    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.
5   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,
10   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.
    Sonnet 13
    What if this present were the world’s last night?
    Mark in my heart, O Soul, where thou dost dwell,
    The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
    Whether that countenance can thee affright,
5   Tears in his eyes quench the amazing light,
    Blood fills his frowns, which from his pierced head fell,
    And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,
    Which prayed forgiveness for his foes’ fierce spite?
    No, no; but as in my idolatry
10   I said to all my profane mistresses,
    Beauty, of pity, foulness only is
    A sign of rigour; so I say to thee,
    To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned,
    This beauteous form assures a piteous mind.
    Sonnet 14
    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.
5   I, like an usurped town t’another due,
    Labour t’admit you, but oh, 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,
10   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 ever chaste, except you ravish me.
    Sonnet 19
    Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one;
    Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot
    A constant habit; that when I would not
    I change in vows, and in devotion.
5   As humorous is my contrition
    As my profane love, and as soon forgot;
    As riddlingly distempered, cold and hot,
    As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
    I durst not view heaven yesterday, and today
10   In prayers, and flattering speeches I court God;
    Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.
    So my devout fits come and go away
    Like a fantastic ague; save that here
    Those are my best days, when I shake with fear.

Robert Clark

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