John Donne Holy Sonnet 14

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In reading some works by John Donne, I came to admire one entitled Holy Sonnet 14. The fact that Donne wrote to a three person God, caught my attention because I was able to relate and understand the biblical text. This sonnet made me feel as if I was in the time in which it was written. There are times when many of us feel down and out and need to express ourselves in a very nasty, brutish, and harsh way. This paper will further discuss how Donne has spoken and expressed himself to his God. This poem is an appeal to God, pleading with Him, not for mercy, forgiveness, or compassionate aid, but for a violent, almost brutal overmastering. Thus, it implores God to perform actions that some would consider to be extremely sinful (i.e. from battering the speaker to actually raping him, which, he says in the final line, is the only way he will ever be chaste). The poem's metaphors (the speaker's heart as a captured town, the speaker as a maiden betrothed to God's enemy) work with a series of violent and powerful verbs (batter, o'erthrow, bend, break, blow, burn, divorce, untie, break, take, imprison, enthrall, ravish) to create the image of God as an overwhelming, violent conqueror. The strange nature of the speaker's plea finds its apotheosis in the inconsistent final couplet, in which the speaker claims that only if God takes him inmate can he be free, and only if God ravishes him can he be chaste. As illustrated by the contrast between Donne's religious lyrics and his metaphysical love poems, Donne seems to be a poet who is deeply divided between religious spirituality and a kind of carnal lust for life. Many of his best poems, including "Batter my heart, three-personed God," mix the discourse of the spiritual and the physical, or of the holy and the secular. In this case, the speaker achieves that mix by claiming that he can only overcome sin and achieve spiritual purity if God forces him in the most physical, violent, and carnal terms imaginable.
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