Holy Sonnets: I am a little world made cunningly
John Donne, Poems, 2nd edn. (M. F. for J. Marriot, 1635). STC 7046. stc Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2Of elements and an angelic sprite,
3But black sin hath betray'd to endless night
4My world's both parts, and oh both parts must die.
5You which beyond that heaven which was most high
6Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
7Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
8Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
9Or wash it, if it must be drown'd no more.
10But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire
11Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
12And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
13And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
14Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.
1] The problem of the order and date of the nineteen poems called the "Holy Sonnets" is very complicated. They have usually been numbered in sequence, but the traditional order has been convincingly questioned by Dame Helen Gardner in her edition of Donne's Divine Poems and is here not indicated. The first two in this selection were first published in 1635, the next five in 1633, the final two, entirely unconnected, not until 1894 and 1899 respectively. Most of the sonnets were probably written about 1609, but "Since she whom I lov'd" was written after the death of Donne's wife in 1617, and "Show me dear Christ" perhaps even later. Back to Line
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N. J. Endicott