Poetry and Sonnets

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I am supposed to be writing a paper right now, diving into the metaphors and metaphysics of a 17th century poem. Can you tell what I am doing instead? 😉

I love literature. I love reading and analyzing such things. What surprised me is that I enjoy poetry as well. Poetry used to be the thing that this tomboy snickered at and refused to read. Poetry was all flowers or depression, and who wants to read that, right?

My Intro to Lit professor chose some great gems for us during our class that I actually enjoyed. We began with the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. Next was the book Scarlett Letter. Then came the poetry.

At first I was so thankful that my poetry book would take so long to come. Once it arrived, my husband had to push me at the thing to open it in order to just finish the class. But my writing assignment changed my perspective. Isn’t is usually our perspective that is the road block?

John Donne was a poet who lived during the turbulent times of the Reformation. He survived the tennis death match between the Catholics and Protestants of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His Holy Sonnets display his amazing mastery of metaphors and graphic imagery of his experiences. He was a very devout believer and his work shows this. I truly enjoyed the experience of meeting this great poet. My new favorite (well, only favorite?) poem is:

Holy Sonnet XIV 
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.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to 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,
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.

Rosenthal, M.L., et al. Poetry in English: An Anthology. New York: Oxford Press, 1987.

What sticks out in your mind? What clause gripped you as you read it?

2 thoughts on “Poetry and Sonnets”

  1. Wow! Last night I heard for the first time a song based on this very poem. Ken is in love with this Justin McRoberts song and I think I am, too. “Take me to You, imprison me, for I, except You enthrall me, shall never be free, nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.” Powerful! People are so concerned about relevance these days, buth truth is always relevant, in any age. Thanks for sharing.

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