May 25, 2014

Poem: Good Lord, Deliver Us!

Good Lord, Deliver Us! is by the English poet, lawyer, and cleric in the Church of England, John Donne (1572-1631). It is included in the Poems for All Seasons Appendix of the Divine Office (1974). It is made up of stanzas: 15-17, and 21 of Donne's 28 stanza poem A Litany, likely written in 1609, during a period of convalescence from a severe illness.

GOOD LORD, DELIVER US! (from 'A Litany') by John Donne, 1609 (Public Domain)

     From being anxious, or secure,
Dead clods of sadness, or light squibs of mirth,
     From thinking that great courts immure
All, or no happiness, or that this earth
          Is only for our prison framed,
          Or that Thou'rt covetous
To them whom Thou lovest, or that they are maim'd
From reaching this world's sweet who seek Thee thus,
With all their might, good Lord, deliver us.

     From needing danger, to be good, From owing
Thee yesterday's tears to-day,
     From trusting so much to Thy blood
That in that hope we wound our soul away,
          From bribing Thee with alms, to excuse
          Some sin more burdens,
From light affecting, in religion, news,
From thinking us all soul, neglecting thus
Our mutual duties, Lord, deliver us.

     From tempting Satan to tempt us,
By our connivance, or slack company,
     From measuring ill by vicious
Neglecting to choke sin's spawn, vanity,
          From indiscreet humility,
          Which might be scandalous
And cast reproach on Christianity,
From being spies, or to spies pervious,
From thirst or scorn of fame, deliver us.

     When senses, which Thy soldiers are,
We arm against Thee, and they fight for sin;
     When want, sent but to tame, doth war,
And work despair a breach to enter in;
          When plenty, God's image, and seal,      
          Makes us idolatrous,
And love it, not him, whom it should reveal;
When we are moved to seem religious
Only to vent wit ; Lord, deliver us.

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