Three Sonnets by John Donne

The following three works were the inspiration for Tony Nips’s Three Tanka after John Donne.

Holy Sonnets: Death, be not Proud

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.
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,
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.

A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
       Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run,
       And do run still, though still I do deplore?
             When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
                   For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin by which I have won
       Others to sin? and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
       A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
            When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
                   For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
       My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
       Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore;
             And, having done that, thou hast done,
                   I fear no more.

Holy 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.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour 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.

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