"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Monday, March 28, 2016

John Donne - "La Corona" & the "Holy Sonnets"

Portrait of young John Donne (c.1595)
La Corona
  • 1. "Deign at my hands..."
  • 2. Annunciation
  • 3. Nativity
  • 4. Temple
  • 5. Crucifying
  • 6. Resurrection
  • 7. Ascension

Holy Sonnets
  • 1. "Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?"
  • 2. "As due by many titles I resign"
  • 3. "O might those sighs and tears return again"
  • 4. "Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned"
  • 5. "I am a little world made cunningly" (University of Toronto)
  • 6. "This is my play's last scene; here heavens appoint" (University of Toronto)
  • 7. "At the round earth's imagined corners, blow"
  • 8. "If faithful souls be alike glorified"
  • 9. "If poisonous minerals, and if that tree" (University of Toronto)
  • 10. "Death be not proud, though some have called thee"
  • 11. "Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side"
  • 12. "Why are we by all creatures waited on?"
  • 13. "What if this present were the world's last night?"
  • 14. "Batter my heart, three-person'd God..."
  • 15. "Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest"
  • 16. "Father, part of his double interest"
  • 17. "Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt" (University of Toronto)
  • 18. "Show me, dear Christ, Thy spouse so bright and clear" (University of Toronto)
  • 19. "Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one"

* * * * * * * * * *

La Corona

La Corona, "The Crown." The seven sonnets are linked by repetition of
each last line as the first line of the next poem. The crown is closed at the
end,  the last line of the last sonnet repeating the first line of the first.

"Deign at my hands..."

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,
Weav'd in my low devout melancholy,
Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,
All changing unchanged Ancient of days,
But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays,
Reward my muse's white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crown gained, that give me,
A crown of Glory, which doth flower always;
The ends crown our works, but thou crown'st our ends,
For at our end begins our endlesse rest,
The first last end, now zealously possest,
With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.
'Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high,
Salvation to all that will is nigh.


Salvation to all that will is nigh,
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Loe, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he'will wear
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother,
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd; yea thou art now
Thy maker's maker, and thy Father's mother,
Thou hast light in dark; and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.


Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves his welbelov'd imprisonment,
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th'Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent
Th'effect of Herod's jealous general doom;
Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith's eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.


With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe,
Joseph turn back; see where your child doth sit,
Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit,
Which himself on the Doctors did bestow;
The Word but lately could not speake, and loe
It suddenly speaks wonders, whence comes it,
That all which was, and all which should be writ,
A shallow seeming child, should deeply know?
His Godhead was not soul to his manhood,
Nor had time mellow'd him to this ripenesse,
But as for one which hath a long task, 'tis good,
With the Sunne to begin his businesse,
He in His age's morning thus began
By miracles exceeding power of man.


By miracles exceeding power of man,
He faith in some, envy in some begat,
For, what weake spirits admire, ambitious hate:
In both affections many to him ran,
But Oh! the worst are most, they will and can,
Alas, and do, unto the immaculate,
Whose creature Fate is, now prescribe a Fate,
Measuring selfe-life's infinity to a span,
Nay to an inch. Loe, where condemned he
Bears his own cross, with pain, yet by and by
When it bears him, he must bear more and die;
Now thou art lifted up, draw me to thee,
And at thy death giving such liberal dole,
Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule.


Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule
Shall (though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly) be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard, or foul,
And life, by this death abled, shall control
Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death, bring misery,
If in thy little book my name thou enroll,
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which 'twas;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sins sleep, and deaths soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last, and everlasting day.


Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sunne, and Sonne,
Ye whose just tears, or tribulation
Have purely washed, or burnt your drossy clay;
Behold the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which he treads upon,
Nor doth he by ascending, show alone,
But first he, and he first enters the way.
O strong Ram which hast battered heaven for me,
Mild lamb, which with thy blood, hast marked the path;
Bright Torch, which shin'st, that I the way may see,
Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath.
And if the holy Spirit, my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

* * * * * * * * * *

Holy Sonnets

"Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?"

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it t'wards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour my self I can sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.

"As due by many titles I resign"

As due by many titles I resign
My self to Thee, O God; first I was made
By Thee, and for Thee, and when I was decayed
Thy blood bought that, the which before was Thine;
I am Thy son, made with Thy Self to shine,
Thy servant, whose pains Thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheep, thine image, and, till I betrayed
My self, a temple of Thy Spirit divine;
Why doth the devil then usurp on me?
Why doth he steal, nay ravish that's thy right?
Except thou rise and for thine own work fight,
Oh I shall soon despair, when I do see
That thou lov'st mankind well, yet wilt not choose me,
And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.

"O might those sighs and tears return again"

O might those sighs and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourned in vain;
In mine Idolatry what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste! what griefs my heart did rent!
That sufferance was my sin; now I repent;
'Cause I did suffer I must suffer pain.
Th' hydropic drunkard, and night-scouting thief,
The itchy lecher, and self-tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joys for relief
Of comming ills. To (poor) me is allowed
No ease; for long, yet vehement grief hath been
Th' effect and cause, the punishment and sin.

"Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned"

Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned
By sickness, death's herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which till death's doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison,
But damned and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.

"At the round earth's imagined corners, blow"

At the round earth's imagined corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered 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.

"If faithful souls be alike glorified"

If faithful souls be alike glorified
As angels, then my father's soul doth see,
And adds this even to full felicity,
That valiantly I hell's wide mouth o'erstride:
But if our minds to these souls be descried
By circumstances, and by signs that be
Apparent in us, not immediately,
How shall my mind's white truth by them be tried?
They see idolatrous lovers weep and mourn,
And vile blasphemous conjurers to call
On Jesus name, and Pharisaical
Dissemblers feigne devotion. Then turn,
O pensive soul, to God, for he knows best
Thy true grief, for he put it in my breast.

"Death be not proud, though some have called thee"

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

"Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side"

Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoff, scourge, and crucify me,
For I have sinned, and sinned, and only he
Who could do no iniquity hath died:
But by my death can not be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews' impiety:
They killed once an inglorious man,
but I Crucify him daily, being now glorified.
Oh let me, then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came clothed in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainful intent:
God clothed himself in vile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe.

"Why are we by all creatures waited on?"

Why are we by all creatures waited on?
Why do the prodigal elements supply
Life and food to me, being more pure than I,
Simple, and further from corruption?
Why brook'st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?
Why dost thou, bull, and bore so seelily,
Dissemble weakness, and by one man's stroke die,
Whose whole kind you might swallow and feed upon?
Weaker I am, woe is me, and worse than you,
You have not sinned, nor need be timorous.
But wonder at a greater wonder, for to us
Created nature doth these things subdue,
But their Creator, whom sin nor nature tied,
For us, His creatures, and His foes, hath died.

"What if this present were the world's last night?"

What if this present were the world's last night?
Mark in my heart, O soul, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Tears in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frowns, which from his pierced head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,
Which prayed forgiveness for his foes' fierce spite?
No, no; but as in my idolatry
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulness only is
A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned,
This beauteous form assures a piteous mind.

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God..."

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

"Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest"

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest,
My soul, this wholesome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy breast.
The Father having begot a Son most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne'er be gone)
Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption,
Co-heir t' his glory, and Sabbath' endless rest.
And as a robbed man, which by search doth find
His stol'n stuff sold, must lose or buy 't again:
The Son of glory came down, and was slain,
Us whom he'd made, and Satan stol'n, to unbind.
'Twas much that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.

"Father, part of his double interest"

Father, part of his double interest
Unto thy kingdom, thy Son gives to me,
His jointure in the knotty Trinity
He keeps, and gives to me his death's conquest.
This Lamb, whose death with life the world hath blest,
Was from the world's beginning slain, and he
Hath made two Wills which with the Legacy
Of his and thy kingdom do thy Sons invest.
Yet such are thy laws that men argue yet
Whether a man those statutes can fulfil;
None doth; but all-healing grace and spirit
Revive again what law and letter kill.
Thy law's abridgement, and thy last command
Is all but love; Oh let this last Will stand!

"Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one"

Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one:
Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vows, and in devotion.
As humorous is my contrition
As my profane love, and as soon forgot:
As riddlingly distempered, cold and hot,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view heaven yesterday; and today
In prayers and flattering speeches I court God:
Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.
So my devout fits come and go away
Like a fantastic ague; save that here
Those are my best days, when I shake with fear.

* * * * * * * * * *

Holy Sonnets

Handwritten draft of Donne's Sonnet XIV, "Batter my heart, three-person'd God", likely in the hand of Donne's friend, Rowland Woodward, from the Westmoreland manuscript (circa 1620)
The Holy Sonnets—also known as the Divine Meditations or Divine Sonnets—are a series of nineteen poems by the English poet John Donne (1572–1631). The sonnets were first published in 1633—two years after Donne's death. The poems are sonnets and are predominantly in the style and form prescribed by Renaissance Italian poetPetrarch (or Francesco Petrarca) (1304–1374) in which the sonnet consisted of two quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a sestet (a six-line stanza). However, several rhythmic and structural patterns as well as the inclusion of couplets are elements influenced by the sonnet form developed by English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564–1616).
Donne's work, both in love poetry and religious poetry, places him as a central figure in among the Metaphysical poets. The nineteen poems that constitute the collection were never published during Donne's lifetime although they did circulate in manuscript. Many of the poems are believed to have been written in 1609 and 1610, during a period of great personal distress and strife for Donne who suffered a combination of physical, emotional, and financial hardships during this time. This was also a time of personal religious turmoil as Donne was in the process of conversion from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism, and would take holy orders in 1615 despite profound reluctance and significant self-doubt about becoming a priest.[1] Sonnet XVII ("Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt") is thought to have been written in 1617 following the death of his wife Anne Moore.[1] In Holy Sonnets, Donne addresses religious themes of mortality, divine judgment, divine love, and humble penance while reflecting deeply personal anxieties.[2]

Composition and publication[edit]

John Donne (1572–1631)


The dating of the poems' composition has been tied to the dating of Donne's conversion to Anglicanism. His first biographer, Izaak Walton, claimed the poems dated from the time of Donne's ministry (he became a priest in 1615); modern scholarship agrees that the poems date from 1609–1610, the same period during which he wrote an anti-Catholic polemic, Pseudo-Martyr.[3]:p.358"Since she whom I loved, hath paid her last debt," though, is an elegy to Donne's wife, Anne, who died in 1617,[4]:p.63 and two other poems, "Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear" and "Oh, to vex me, contraries meet as one" are first found in 1620.[4]:p.51

Publication history[edit]

The Holy Sonnets were not published during Donne's lifetime. It is thought that Donne circulated these poems amongst friends in manuscript form. For instance, the sonnet "Oh my black soul" survives in no fewer than fifteen manuscript copies, including a miscellany compiled for William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The sonnets, and other poems, were first published in 1633—two years after his death.
Among the nineteen poems that are grouped together as the Holy Sonnets, there is variation among manuscripts and early printings of the work. Poems are listed in different order, some poems are omitted. In his Variorum edition of Donne's poetry, Gary A. Stringer proposed that there were three sequences for the sonnets.[5] Only eight of the sonnets appear in all three versions.[4]:p.51
  • The first sequence (which Stringer calls the "original sequence") contained twelve poems. It was published in the posthumous collection Songs and Sonnets (1633) which is thought to be derived from manuscripts overseen by Donne himself.[4]:p.51[3]:pp.386–387
  • The second sequence (called the "Westmoreland sequence") contained nineteen poems. This sequence was prepared circa 1620 by Rowland Woodward, a friend of Donne who was serving as the secretary to Sir Francis Fane (1580–1629) who in 1624 became the first Earl of Westmorland. This compilation is considered to possess "high extrinsic authority...undoubtedly standing very close to Donne's own papers."[6] The Westmoreland manuscript is in the collection of the New York Public Library in Manhattan.
  • The third sequence (which Stringer calls the "revised sequence") contained twelve poems—eight sonnets from the original sequence and four sonnets from the Westmoreland manuscript. However, these twelve poems are arranged in a different order. This sequence is thought to be derived from an earlier manuscript. It was published as the posthumous collection titled Divine Meditations in 1635.

Three sequences of Donne's Holy Sonnets
First lineComposition date[7]Songs and Sonnets (1633)Westmoreland MS (1620)Divine Meditations (1635)
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decayc. 1609–16110101omitted
As due by many titles I resignunknown020201
O might those sighs and tears return againc. 1609–16110303omitted
Father, part of his double interest041612
O, my black soul, now thou art summonedFeb.-Aug. 1609050402
This is my play's last scene, here heavens appoint060603
I am a little world made cunningly0705omitted
At the round earth's imagined corners, blowFeb.-Aug. 1609080704
If poisonous minerals, and if that tree090905
If faithful souls be alike glorified1008omitted
Death be not proud, though some have called theeFeb.-Aug. 1609111006
Wilt thou love God, as he thee! then digest121511
Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my sideomitted1107
Why are we by all creatures waited on?omitted1208
What if this present were the world's last night?c. 1609omitted1309
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for youc. 1609omitted1410
Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debtafter August 1617omitted17omitted
Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clearomitted18omitted
O, to vex me, contraries meet in oneafter Jan. 1615omitted19omitted

Analysis and interpretation[edit]


A few months before his death, Donne commissioned this portrait of himself as he expected to appear when he rose from the grave at theApocalypse.[8] He hung the portrait on his wall as a reminder of the transience of life.
According to scholar A. J. Smith, the Holy Sonnets "make a universal drama of religious life, in which every moment may confront us with the final annulment of time."[1] The poems address "the problem of faith in a tortured world with its death and misery."[9] Donne's poetry is heavily informed by his Anglican faith and often provides evidence of his own internal struggles as he considers pursuing the priesthood.[1] The poems explore the wages of sin and death, the doctrine of redemption, opening "the sinner to God, imploring God's forceful intervention by the sinner's willing acknowledgment of the need for a drastic onslaught upon his present hardened state" and that "self-recognition is a necessary means to grace."[1] The personal nature of the poems "reflect their author's struggles to come to terms with his own history of sinfulness, his inconstant and unreliable faith, his anxiety about his salvation."[10]:p.108 He is obsessed with his own mortality but acknowledges it as a path to God's grace.[11] Donne is concerned about the future state of his soul, fearing not the quick sting of death but the need to achieve salvation before damnation and a desire to get one's spiritual affairs in order. The poems are "suffused with the language of bodily decay" expressing a fear of death that recognizes the impermanence of life by descriptions of his physical condition and inevitability of "mortal flesh" compared with an eternal afterlife.[10]:p.106-107
It is said that Donne's sonnets were heavily influenced by his connections to the Jesuits through his uncle Jasper Haywood, and from the works of the founder of the Jesuit Order, Ignatius Loyola.[10]:p.109[12] Donne chose the sonnet because the form can be divided into three parts (two quatrains, one sestet) similar to the form of meditation or spiritual exercise described by Loyola in which (1) the penitent conjures up the scene of meditation before him (2) the penitent analyses, seeking to glean and then embrace whatever truths it may contain; and (3) after analysis, the penitent is ready to address God in a form of petition or resign himself to divine will that the meditation reveals.[10]:p.109[12][13]


Musical settings[edit]

British composer Benjamin Britten set nine of Donne's sonnets in a song cycle in 1945.
British composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) set nine of the sonnets for soprano or tenor and piano in his song cycle Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35 (1945).[14] Britten wrote the songs in August 1945 for tenor Peter Pears, his lover and a musical collaborator since 1934.[9] Britten had been "encouraged...to explore the work of Donne" by poet W.H. Auden.[9][15]However, Britten was inspired to compose the work after visiting concentration camps in Germany after World War II ended as part of a concert tour for Holocaust survivors organised by violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Britten was shocked by the experience and Pears later asserted that the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp were an influence on the composition.[16]
Britten set the following 9 sonnets:
1. Oh my blacke soule!
2. Batter my heart
3. O might those sighes and teares
4. Oh, to vex me
5. What if this present
6. Since she whom I loved
7. At the round earth's imagined corners
8. Thou hast made me
9. Death, be not proud
According to Britten biographer Imogen Holst, Britten ordering of Donne's sonnets indicates that he "would never have set a cruel subject to music without linking the cruelty to the hope of redemption"[17] Britten's placement of the sonnets are first those whose themes explore conscience, unworthiness, and death (Songs 1–5), to the personal melancholy of the sixth song ("Since she whom I loved") written by Donne after the death of his wife, and the last three songs (7–9) the idea of resurrection.[9]
British composer John Tavener (b. 1944), known for his religious and minimalist music, set three of Donne's sonnets ("I Spit in my face," "Death be not proud," and "I am a little world made cunningly") for soloists and a small ensemble of two hornstrombonebass trombonetimpani and strings in 1962. The third in the series he wrote as a schoolboy, and the first two settings were inspired by the death of his maternal grandmother.[18]

Sonnet XIV and the Trinity site

It is thought that theoretical physicist and Manhattan Project director J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), regarded as the "father of the Atomic Bomb", named the site of the first nuclear weapon test site "Trinity" after a phrase from Donne's Sonnet XIV. At the time of the preparations for the test on 16 July 1945 Oppenheimer reportedly was reading Holy Sonnets. In 1962, Lieutenant General Leslie Groves (1896–1970) wrote to Oppenheimer about the origin of the name, asking if he had chosen it because it was a name common to rivers and peaks in the West and would not attract attention.[19] Oppenheimer replied:
I did suggest it, but not on that ground... Why I chose the name is not clear, but I know what thoughts were in my mind. There is a poem of John Donne, written just before his death, which I know and love. From it a quotation: "As West and East / In all flatt Maps—and I am one—are one, / So death doth touch the Resurrection." That still does not make a Trinity, but in another, better known devotional poem Donne opens, "Batter my heart, three person'd God;—."[19][20]
Historian Gregg Herken believes that Oppenheimer named the site in reference to Donne's poetry as a tribute to his deceased mistress, psychiatrist and physician Jean Tatlock (1914–1944)—the daughter of an English literature professor and philologist—who introduced Oppenheimer to the works of Donne.[21]:pp.29,129 Tatlock, who suffered from severe depression, committed suicide in January 1944 after the conclusion of her affair with Oppenheimer.[21]:p.119[22]
The history of the Trinity test, and the stress and anxiety of the Manhattan Project's workers in the preparations for the test was the focus of the 2005 opera Doctor Atomic by contemporary American composer John Adams, with libretto by Peter Sellars. At the end of Act I, the character of Oppenheimer sings an aria whose text is derived from Sonnet XIV ("Batter my heart, three person'd God;—").[23][24]