Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

  • Not a critical or scholarly text but a reading text for a seminar

young John Donne

Holy Sonnets:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God




John Donne


Icon as Anglo-Catholic minister


Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you        [3-person'd = Holy Trinity]]
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.                                   4
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,             [usurp'd = seized, captured]
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,  [viceroy = local ruler acting for king / "roi"]
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.         [captiv'd = captured, held hostage]               8
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,     [fain = happily]
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,                                                             12
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,      [enthrall = enslave, master]
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.         [ravish = remove, transport, as from earth to heaven, but also denoting rape]