Imagin’d Corners!

John Donne (1573-1631) died on March 31st 1631 – a mere 392 years ago at the age of 58. None of his poetry was published until after his death. A large part of his life was lived consumed by his own thoughts of mortality and death. The last 10 years of his life he was Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral and was regarded as the best English preacher of his time. His Holy Sonnets run to 19 and today I am sharing with you Number VII. – “At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow/Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise. Antique maps of Donne’s time were often illustrated by angels on the corners holding the world together, watching over the world, declaring judgement! In the map above we have two cherubs blowing wind upon the world – perhaps figuratively the life giving breath of God. There is much in the poem related to the final judgement and angelic angels all of which we find in the last book of the Bible – Revelations. Like most, if not all 14 line sonnets, the turn or volta (Italian word for turn) happens at line 9 -14. Here Donne wants to hold off such judgment until he has time to fully repent before he meets his Maker! Rather than have all the dead come to life he writes “But Let them sleep, Lord “- this change of mind to allow him to mourn a space (while) and teach me how to repent. So the season of Lent continues and we need also to learn the lesson. Might we not be consumed by our mortality but take time to marvel and enjoy the words of Donne and be thankful that they have survived these many years.

Holy Sonnets – Divine Poem VII
At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes
Shall behold God and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For if above all these my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace
When we are there; here on this lowly ground
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood. John Donne

Creator God, maker of
heaven and earth,
to you I offer my prayer
and to you I sing my praise.
Out of your breath, O Holy God,
life abounds. Help us one and all
to cherish this gift.
Come, Lord Jesus,
and with your breath, breathe
hope and grace, comfort and courage,
into the hearts and lives of those whose
lives have been changed forever due to
the winds’ destructive power of tornado.
From our sad addiction to guns and our lack of
support for the cries for legislative action,
come, Lord Jesus, and forgive our tragic errors.
Give us courage to call for and to bring about change.
Come, Lord Jesus,
and with your breath, breathe
life and grace, belief and possibility
into the countless lives that seek asylum’s
sanctuary and shelter.
Creator God, maker
of heaven and earth,
might we become our
sister’s and brother’s keeper. Amen.

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