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Two Poems for a Friday (and neither are by me)

This week's post comes courtesy of George Matheson and John Donne

I was reminded of a poem I really like this week, along with the poem (technically a hymn) that I often get it confused with, so I thought I’d share both. The first I’ll share is the more accessible, Make me a captive, Lord by George Matheson, and the second is John Donne’s Batter my heart, three-person’d God. The last two lines of Donne’s poem are remarkably similar in theme to Matheson’s hymn (hence my confusion between the two) though they really are very different in style otherwise. I hope at least one of them leaves an impression on you!


Make me a captive, Lord

by George Matheson

Make me a captive, Lord.

And then I shall be free;

Force me to render up my sword,

And I shall conq’ror be.

I sink in life’s alarms

When by myself I stand,

Imprison me within Thine arms,

And strong shall be my hand.

My heart is weak and poor

Until it master find:

It has no spring of action sure,

It varies with the wind;

It cannot freely move

Till Thou hast wrought its chain;

Enslave it with Thy matchless love,

And deathless it shall reign.

My power is faint and low

Till I have learned to serve:

It wants the needed fire to glow,

It wants the breeze to nerve;

It cannot drive the world

Until itself be driven;

Its flag can only be unfurled

When Thou shalt breathe from heaven.

My will is not my own

Till Thou hast made it Thine;

If it would reach the monarch’s throne

It must its crown resign;

It only stands unbent

Amid the clashing strife,

When on Thy bosom it has leant,

And found in Thee its life.


Batter my heart, three person’d God

by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,

But am betroth’d unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

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