Monday, April 12, 2010

Holy Sonnet XIV

John Donne (1572 - 1631)

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knocke; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you,'and would be lov'd faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie;
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish mee.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"Master John Donne was born in London, in the year 1573*, of good and virtuous parents," says his biographer and friend, Izaak Walton, who wrote The Life of Dr. Donne in 1640. His parents were devout Roman Catholics and Donne was initally educated at home by Jesuits, becoming fluent in both French and Latin before entering Oxford at the age of eleven.

He studied there for three years and then was transferred to Cambridge, "that he might have nourishment of both soils," where he studied until he was seventeen. Although he was a diligent student he never took a degree at either university since in order to do so he would have had to swear the Oath of Supremacy, declaring Queen Elizabeth to be the head of the Church in England, which would have gone against his Catholic upbringing. In fact, his mother was the great-niece of Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the Church.

[to be continued...]

* Everyone else lists his birth date as 1572; I don't know why the discrepancy.

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