Holy Sonnets: If poisonous minerals, and if that tree

By John Donne 1572–1631 John Donne
If poisonous minerals, and if that tree
Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot be damn'd, alas, why should I be?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous?
And mercy being easy, and glorious
To God, in his stern wrath why threatens he?
But who am I, that dare dispute with thee,
O God? Oh, of thine only worthy blood
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown in it my sins' black memory.
That thou remember them, some claim as debt;
I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet John Donne 1572–1631

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects God & the Divine, Christianity, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Allusion

 John  Donne

Biography

John Donne's standing as a great English poet, and one of the greatest writers of English prose, is now assured. However, it has been confirmed only in the present century. The history of Donne's reputation is the most remarkable of any major writer in English; no other body of great poetry has fallen so far from favor for so long and been generally condemned as inept and crude. In Donne's own day his poetry was highly prized . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT God & the Divine, Christianity, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Faith & Doubt

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Allusion

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.