I immersed myself in Donne’s poetry while an undergraduate because I found in his poetry an interweaving of two very important things in my life: my Christianity and my love of beauty. “A Hymn to God” and “Batter My Heart” spoke to my experience in struggling to believe. Another favorite is his holy sonnet on death…
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
This sonnet comes to mind because of the murder of a friend this week who too, I believe, struggled to believe and was both flawed and a blessing. Does the brokenness lead to despair or to defiance?