A Hymn to God The Father – John Donne – Comments

A Hymn to God The Father.

Wilt thou forgive that sinn, which I begunn,
Which is my sinn, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive those sins through which I runn
And doe run still, though still I doe deplore?
When thou has done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sinn, by which I’have wonne
Others to sinn, and made my sinn their dore?
Wilt thou forgive that sinn which I did shunne
A year or twoe, but wallowed in a score?
When thou has done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.

I have a sinn of feare that when I have spun
My last thred, I shall perish on the shore;
Sweare by thy self that at my Death, thy Sonne
Shall shine as he shines nowe, & heretofore;
And having done that, thou hast done,
I feare noe more.

John Donne (1572 – 1631)

Sin = in the traditional religious context the transgression against God, (perhaps all about not being ‘good’ and failing within oneself and in our relationships with others)

The first stanza is all about sin and the fact that sin pervades all of humanity and John Donne asks for forgiveness from God for his sin and the sin of humanity which cannot be avoided and of which he is part.

The second stanza then asks for forgiveness where John Donne has led others to sin. He refers to many years when he was young and outside Church life – wallowed in a score. But God does not have Donne yet for there is more, play on his surname.

In the last stanza he mentions a fear that he has at his Death. However, if Jesus still shines forgiveness as he has done in life then John Donne fears no more. If that is done then God has Donne, again a play on his name.

This poem is all about forgiving oneself as well as accepting forgiveness from God. Some find this very hard to do when something they have done is deeply regretted.

John Donne on Wikipedia