John Donne – Holy Sonnet 18

“Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.
What! is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? or which, robbed and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleeps she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we to seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she is embraced and open to most men. ”

The bride “on seven hills” is the Roman Church, the church “on no hill” was likely the Church of England or the Presbyterian Church (at the time greatly suffering in Germany).  Which, Donne asks, is the Church on “on one” hill, that of Christ? 

Quite a question for a man born to Catholic parents and later rejected Catholicism, only to become an Anglican priest.  It would get him defrocked in some circles nowadays.

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