Batter My Heart

BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’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 weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved 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 mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

-John Donne

I first read this poem in high school and I remember being struck by Donne’s choice of words, especially the end, “you ravish me”. Now that I read it again, I notice how these words are so unlike the humble requests I often make. Donne’s entreaties are full of force and desire. See all his harsh consonants: “Batter my heart… break, blow, burn and make me new.” These sinful thoughts that go through my mind, I wish I were stronger but I am so weak. Only God can save me. I empathize with Donne’s desperation, the craving to be transformed, asking to not just be mended but completely broken and made anew. God is everywhere, and yet I feel so far away. Have I made any progress? Sometimes I don’t feel it, it seems so small and insignificant, so tenuous and liable to revert back to old ways. I want to be closer. I can plead to be held captive to God, but He gives us free will to do as we please, and so long as I am on earth I will be so imperfect. Only if I am enthralled and enraptured by God can I be set free. But what of my salvation is of credit to me? None of it, even the faith that saves comes from God.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. -Ephesians 2:8

What can I do, but pray for God to come closer and give me more faith?


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