Metaphysical Poetry

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Study Guide:
John Donne’s “A Hymn To God the Father”

By Danielle Beer St Norbert College K7 3B Literature Miss South

Introduction John Donne was a sixteenth century metaphysical poet. Born in 1572, London, Donne lived in a world where scientific discoveries began to overtake the theological society. He was very openly religious, and this came through many of his works, including A Hymn to God the Father. His marriage and relationship with his wife was also very evident in his some of his writings. He married Anne More, 16, in 1601, in secret. When her family found out, they were furious, and no longer acknowledged them as a part of the family. Due to this, they struggled in poverty for several years as outcasts of society. Eventually, however, they were welcomed back.. A Hymn to God the Father focuses a lot on the Donne’s religious context. The persona reflects on the forgiveness of sins, and whether it is truly mean’t, or even really worth it. The poem also alludes to original sin. These religious references and allusions link directly with Donne’s personal context during his time serving the Anglican church. During his lifetime, he was pressured into entering a profession in the Anglican Church, two years before his wife died. He later proceeded to become dean of st. Paul’s Cathedral in 1621. Donne’s poem, A Hymn to God the Father, is poses the philosophical question of sincerity and reverence in asking God for forgiveness of our sins. Summary As a whole, the poem reflects the idea that forgiving a person is a long, hard and continuous job, which does not cease until the person dies, and is saved by God. The poem is broken into three stanza’s, which all have their individual meanings. They are as follows; 1. Donne’s persona begin’s to ask God for forgiveness. He doesn’t, however, start with himself, but with Original Sin. This is evident in the first two lines. Paraphrasing, Donne simply writes, “Will You forgive all of my sins, since the very



Bibliography: Internet Crossref-it.info (2013). 'A Hymn to God the Father ' by John Donne from Crossrefit.info. Retrieved from http://www.crossref-it.info/textguide/Metaphysical-Poetry/ 4/215 ENotes (2013). Synopsis - A Hymn to God the Father by John Donne. Retrieved from http://www.enotes.com/a-hymn-to-god-the-father/enotes-synopsis John Donne, provided by Anniina Jenkin (2000, January 2). John Donne: A Hymn To God The Father. Retrieved from http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/ hymntogod.php Manny (2011, February 26). “A Hymn To God the Father” by John Donne. Retrieved from http://jscafenette.com/2011/02/26/a-hymn-to-god-the-father-byjohn-donne/ Poets.org (2013). John Donne- Poets.org. Retrieved from http://www.poets.org/ poet.php/prmPID/243 Sparknotes (2013). Donne’s Poetry: Context. Retrieved from http:// www.sparknotes.com/poetry/donne/context.html Books: The Good News Bible

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