ravish me

John Donne
Holy Sonnet XIV

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.

“Burn me” and “ravish me” take us into priestly territory, although much of the language in here is kingly: regarding our self as a municipality (in need of new rulership) and echoing the royal marriage motif between God and Israel. In Book X of Confessions, Augustine also compares our inner world (memory) to a busy and often unruly city. But this poem ends in priestly territory, with the need for the whole city, the bride, to be purified by an overwhelming vision of God’s glorious beauty.

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