Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Hymn to God the Father - John Donne

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

John Donne 1572 - 1631

This poem was written late in his life. John Donne reflects on God forgiving man for wrong-doing (or sin), including a reflection on his own wrong-doing and most importantly in the last stanza a wrong-doing in terms of a fear of not being saved. Whether he was close to death or not this contemplation shows a fear that would be common to many approaching death.

In the first stanza he identifies with all that has gone wrong with humanity in the past. Life cannot be viewed without this acknowledgement whether or not you embrace the concept of original sin and a fall from grace.

The second stanza becomes more personal. Thinking of times where he has caused others to stray. Also the many years of his youth when he led a life of abandonment   '... wallowed in, a score'

The last four lines express his faith in his religion quite succinctly and his fear is dissipated. He uses his own name in two ways .... to state the accomplishment of God ... God has done his work through the son, and God has, of course, Donne within his care.

A link to more analysis of this poem

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