John Donne (1572–1631), Holy Sonnet I
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it t'wards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour my self I can sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.
John Donne (1572–1631) was born into a prominent Catholic family but converted to the Church of England in his twenties. At the age of eleven he entered Oxford University for a period of three years, and then Cambridge, but he never took a degree. In 1615 he became an Anglican priest, and in 1621 the dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Donne’s poetry, prose and sermons were famous for their eloquence, subtlety, psychological analysis and brilliance, especially as they described the complex paradoxes of the human condition.