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'Batter my heart' - A John Donne sonnet to mark World Poetry Day

A sonnet by John Donne (1572-1631), Dean of St Paul's Cathedral and one of England’s foremost poets, to mark World Poetry Day.

Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart

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.

Renowned both as an extraordinarily sensual poet and a great priest and preacher (Dean of St Paul's from 1621-31) who coined the phrases ‘No man is an island’ and ‘For whom the bell tolls’, John Donne’s work remains as powerful today as when lived and worked at St Paul’s in the early years of the 17 century. Today, visitors to the cathedral are still reminded of his time at St Paul’s by his imposing statue - the only one to survive, unscathed, from the Great Fire of 1666.