Thursday, December 13, 2012

Immensity Cloistered in Thy Dear Womb

Last night I read three poems by John Donne at Evening Prayer following the Isaiah 6 reading in the lectionary. I started with the classic "Batter my heart three person'd God" and then moved to two of his holy sonnets, "Annunciation" and "Nativitie." These two are part of a seven-sonnet set. They are second and third. The first line of each sonnet is the last line of the previous one, except the first line of the first sonnet is the last line of the last, giving a wonderful circularity to the whole collection.

The two that I read last night, I post here for the deep and beautiful writing of Donne.


Salvation to all that will is nigh,
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Loe, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he'will wear
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother,
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd; yea thou art now
Thy maker's maker, and thy Father's mother,
Thou hast light in dark; and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.


Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves his welbelov'd imprisonment,
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th'Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent
Th'effect of Herod's jealous general doom;
Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith's eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

The line "immensity cloistered in thy dear womb" is probably one of my favorite here... simple and yet profound. The good news of God in Jesus... God's majesty robed not just in flesh, but first wrapped up in the flesh of Mary. 

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