Holy Sonnets: If poisonous minerals, and if that tree
2Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us,
3If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
4Cannot be damn'd, alas, why should I be?
5Why should intent or reason, born in me,
6Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous?
7And mercy being easy, and glorious
8To God, in his stern wrath why threatens he?
9But who am I, that dare dispute with thee,
10O God? Oh, of thine only worthy blood
11And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
12And drown in it my sins' black memory.
13That thou remember them, some claim as debt;
14I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget.
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