John Donne's "Batter My Heart, Three-Person'D God"

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The poem “Batter My Heart, Three-person’d God” by John Donne is a prayer to God from the poet. Donne is a struggling sinner, and the poem is his desperate cry for help. He wants God to be in his life, no matter how difficult and painful it is, and desires to be everything God wants him to be. The poem gives a sense of Donne’s complex relationship with God. It is apparent that he is in the midst of a struggle with good and evil, and begins with a plea to God to enter his heart by any means necessary and rid him of the evil that has taken over. Donne uses graphic and violent imagery throughout the poem as a way of showing his utter desperation. This imagery is used in an exaggerated way to convey Donne’s strong desire for God, as well as implying that there is something else that is hindering his ability to allow God in himself. In using the metaphor “batter my heart” in the first line, Donne is implying that he wants God to use his power like a battering ram to enter his heart. This gives a strong indication that there is some unknown force – be it sin, evil, or the devil – preventing Donne himself from allowing God to enter. He refers to God as the “three-personed God,” alluding to the Bible’s teaching of God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Donne’s complaint is that God is not being aggressive enough in how he is dealing with him; the Father knocks, the Holy Spirit breathes, and the Son shines his light upon him, but Donne wants him to use his power more aggressively to “mend” him, help him become “new,” and force the evils out of him. The progression to violent imagery shows Donne’s desperation; he no longer wants God “knock,” but is asking him to “break” the door down, not simply “breathe” but to “blow,” and not “shine,” but to “burn.” The use of alliteration with the words “break,” “breathe” and “blow” help in drawing attention to their severity, and emphasizing the extent of Donne’s desperation. He believes that in using these...
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