John Donne Sonnet XIV Batter My Heart

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John Donne (1572-1631) : 

John Donne (1572-1631) John Donne (1572-1631) Metaphysical Poetry Metaphysical Poetry Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed 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 usurp'd town to'another due, Labor 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 lov'd 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.

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John Donne (1572-1631) Metaphysical Poetry Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God The poem takes the form of a Shakespearean sonnet: The poem is composed of14 lines It consists of three quatrains - groups of four lines, followed by a rhyming couplet - two lines -at the end Has the following rhyme scheme: ABBA, ABBA, CDCD, EE It has an unusual rhyme at the end of line 12: "enemy" rhymes with"I.“ The poem is in iambic pentameter - five groups of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable Until John Donne ,sonnets had almost exclusively been about a speaker’s love for a woman. Donne, however, decided that this would be an appropriate form to address God. On one hand, there is an intimacy and genuine affection for God here, but on the other hand, one can also construe this as serious disrespect for God. The poem revolves around tension between an earthly, physical attraction and a more sacred, spiritual form of love.

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John Donne (1572-1631) Metaphysical Poetry Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed 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. The speaker feels that God has been too kind to him and must break him down, so he could rise up. Multiple contradictions and words with double meanings. Lines 2 and 4 set up a series of contradictions. The speaker wants to and overthrown in order to rise. He wants God to mend him by breaking and burning. In the first line, "Batter my heart" the author possibly compares heart to a wall of a city, which should be battered down by God. City walls and a heart are quite unlike. It is therefore a simile. Analogy between heart and besieged city is present throughout the whole poem. The second line speaks of God's knocking at our hearts. The reference comes from Revelation 3:20. God says that He stands at the door and knocks, yet Donne wants God to break down the door of his heart so that he could be saved. "O'erthrow me" and "bend me" could be a sexual metaphor. Presence of assonance: BREAK, BLOW, BURN - forceful sounds.

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John Donne (1572-1631) Metaphysical Poetry Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God I, like an usurp'd town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end. Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. An extended, elaborate metaphor - a conceit - is used to compare the speaker with a town, which was conquered and subdued. He wants to let God in, but his reason is too weak, and he can't do it, so he needs God to break through in a dramatic and violent way, "to conquer the town" Describing reason as a viceroy of God and himself as a captured town is a bit confusing, but possibly it was intentional. "I labor to admit you" possibly carries sexual meaning, and "to another due" might imply unhappy affair with somebody else. The speaker is longing for God not only in spiritual, but also in physical way.

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John Donne (1572-1631) Metaphysical Poetry Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God 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. Imagery of marriage is used. He longs to be with God, but is given to sin, vice and evil. He implores God to break the bonds of engagement with evil, so he could come to Him. The speaker asks for violent intervention of God. He could only be free, once imprisoned by God. There is a presence of a paradox, as the author says he could only be chaste, if God ravishes - rapes - him, which is absurd and illogical. Rape and chastity are incompatible, yet the speaker is in in the world of sins and vice, where divine intervention, even in the form of rape makes a person chaste. "ravish" and "enthrall" may refer to feelings of rapture, excitement and joy. The author sees God as truly all-powerful and -mighty, and, when needed violent. Another major paradox opens here. The speaker wants to be set free thru being imprisoned by God. The last two lines ha.ve yet more vivid sexual tones. Metaphors used could carry sexual weight and imply purely physical desire to be with God. This, apart from blasphemy, could also be regarded as a contradiction: God does not exist in physical terms, yet the speaker addresses God, as if we were addressing a beautiful maid.

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The poem vividly represents the peak of John Donne's conflict between physical pleasures and chaste and religious life, and his efforts to combine sacred love with sexual desire. This piece of poetry is widely considered to be an exemplary and classical metaphysical poem and one of the best works of John Donne Thank you for your kind attention, Angel Versetti