Having recently been viewing a British history documentary (Simon Schama's series for BBC) in which the events of Henry VIII's schismatic escapades and their ensuing catastrophes are well narrated, the nature of the Church during the Reformation has been on my mind. At the same time (or rather, in the last hour or so) I have been reviewing some of my favorite British Renaissance/Reformation poets in order to put together a proper PhD proposal for this Swiss programme I'm considering. And in the process, I came across this poem of Donne's which I had either completely forgotten or never read. It seems to hit upon some of the very sentiments I have been having in the last... three days... and with a voice straight from the midst of it all. It is the eighteenth of his Holy Sonnets, and I have transcribed it here:

Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse, so bright and clear.
What! is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? or which, robbed and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleeps she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we to seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she is embraced and open to most men.


  1. I just wanted to say how awesome you are.

    Thats all.

  2. N.B. for PHd proposal: there were only ever eight Henrys.

  3. hehehe.... yeah, i should probably fix that.


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