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Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God Analysis



Author: Poetry of John Donne Type: Poetry Views: 7555

Batter my heart, three-personed 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 usurped town, to another due,

Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

but is captived, and proves weak or untrue.

yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,

But am betrothed 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 even chaste, except you ravish me.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

I think the real message of this poem is how the speaker has better ties with the Devil and wants his ties with God cut. When he talks about how he wants the imaginary force to \"break, blow, burn, and make him new,\" these are terms usually associated with the Devil. Burn comes with fire, and Hell is full of fire. Later in the poem when he talks about divorce and imprisonment, he also talks about the imaginary force in the sense that it enthralls and ravishes the speaker. Those are usually terms associated with sin and evil, which the Devil is very much associated with. I know the message is SUPPOSED to be about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and making him a new man free from sin, but this was the first impression I got from reading this...

| Posted on 2013-01-02 | by a guest


.: :.

The Correct Answer
The three-personed God is related to a pot maker with the speaker being the clay to make the pot. The three verbs in lines 2 and 4 are attributed to each part of the Trinity. \"Knock\" and \"break\" are to the Father. \"Breathe\" and \"blow\" are to the Holy Spirit for it is the living breathe that it blows into all humans. \"Shine\" and \"burn\" is to the Son. This last idea is also a concealed pun as you can tell on the play on the words \"Son\" and the shining and burning \"sun\". You\'re welcome for finally having the right answer on this website!

| Posted on 2012-03-06 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe its is a person beggining asking for God to take care of his battered heart, as of yet i have not asked for help. I need you to change me and make me new. I am a wreckage. I have to surrender to you. Rule me, as much as I want I cant do it alone. I need your love. Take me away from it all, start me fresh, take over me and make me what you want of me. I will be yours forever. I will never be free unless you enslave me. I will never exploit unless take by you.

| Posted on 2011-05-11 | by a guest


.: :.

I wonder if he\'s literally asking God to kill him? This would be one way that God could \'break the (marriage) knot\' that Donne seems to think he has with the devil. If he kills him he will no longer be tempted to sin and will not doubt god\'s existence/his faith because he will presumably be in Heaven. Or does he just want God to be as physical and \'obvious\' as the devil (the devil is obvious in the sense that he provides temptation) - but I wonder also whether the \'\'enemy\'\' IS the devil or whether it\'s doubt? Or the body and carnal lusts? Lots of interpretations I suppose!

| Posted on 2011-04-28 | by a guest


.: :.

Why does the poet want God to batter his heart? Why does he asked on God to be harsh on him.

| Posted on 2011-02-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Since i\'m a student of english literature i was studying perrine\'s book on poetry and in the part for figurative language it gives this sonnet as an example.I\'m ashamed to say that the only thing i got from it was the christian trinity but the comments here really helped me in understanding a whole lot more.
thanx guys!

| Posted on 2010-11-05 | by a guest


.: :.

you are all retarded,
this sonnet is part of a collection of 19 sonnets that display his bizarre state of mind after his wife’s death that caused him much spiritual insecurity. He is clearly asking God for a manifestation of his power as he is frustrated and is doubting his existence. He uses extended metaphors and paradoxes to illustrate his aggravation and frustration. He writes about the sin and temptation that he faces and wants proof of God so that he can resist it. He asks for the physical evidence in the form of violence, "Batter...break, blow, burn..." ironically also as God is benevolent and would not actually harm anyone.
you are mostly all wrong, and he certainly does not want redemption for sinning.

| Posted on 2010-03-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I took "burn" and "shine" to be allusions to Jesus, not God. It is a subtle pun on the word sun; the SUN burns and shines, and Jesus is the SON of God.

| Posted on 2010-02-11 | by a guest


.: :.

what does with poem symbolise and the theme,the irony

| Posted on 2009-03-26 | by a guest


.: :.

The line "break, blow, burn, and make me new" could be interpreted not only as a restating of "knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend”, but also as pottery images. This would be an allusion to Genesis, where man is created out of clay. (Donne is now asking God to remake him as though he were clay)
Donne wrote this poem while he was entering into the ministry, so this poem is clearly his way of expressing his doubts and worries about his faith. Hence, the ironic violence and sexual references.

| Posted on 2009-01-21 | by a guest


.: :.

ATTENTION MODERATORS
Since I don't see anyway to contact moderators on this site, I am using this to get your attention. Please take a look at the posts for this poem. Other than the fist and last, they spam bringing down the status/reputation of your otherwise useful website.

| Posted on 2008-06-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed 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.

There obviously is some sexual text in this poem, but I think its effect is meant to be ironic, as this poem was written after Donne's marked phase with sensuality, followed by his turning to spirituality. The poem is chock-full of allusions, mostly of the biblical sort, for instance, the "three-personed god" is (duh!) a mention of the Christian trinity. When he says, "knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend," he is making an allusion to Jesus in The book of Revelations, "I stand in the door and knock" (Rev, 3.20) and The Holy Ghost is alluded to with the "breathe" (from John, 20.22 "The Holy Ghost is the breath...") and of course, "Shine" alludes to God, "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth" (Psalm 50.2). The "seek to mend" is a characteristic of the combinedthree, the entire trinity. The next clause, with remarkable symmetry, goes on with the desired, "break, blow, burn, and make me new" are merely stronger versions of the previously mentioned verbs. "break" is stronger than "bend" but it is still in the same family, "blow" a stronger version of "breathe", "burn" of "shine", and "make me new" an improved and more permanent version of "seek to mend" The next four lines have an extended metaphor to "an usurped town," with the "your enemy" (Satan?)as the usurper, with an unwilling "betrothal." The entire poem is basically the author (orhis persona) entreating God to "slap him up into shape" begging God to take a more hands-on approach to punishment, teaching, and... um, "god-ing?"
There is a typo in the poem, the last line should not be "Nor even chaste," but "Nor EVER chaste"

| Posted on 2007-07-25 | by a guest


.: Blegh. :.

everybody here is insane. one person doesn't know how to use nouns, the other is a disgustingly narrowminded christian person, and the third is a high school student who obviously hasn't gotten any yet.

anyway, this poem is fabulous. the use of sexual language in relation to his religious subject makes for an even more powerful message than either one alone.

| Posted on 2007-03-19 | by a guest


.: from the vnerd haters :.

john donne was a wondeful man with a wopping great dong in his trunks and he stuck it up mr hoptons tight ass until his balls sweated like a pigs and then he swabbed his sweaty steamy balls, oh yes he swabbed. vnerd got done by donne and his fast steamy bollocks exploded in her face cos she is a slag and all the people smelt her pussy and stds because she is a whore aand then donney boy wrote this poem and shat on it for mr hoptons pleasure, and he loved the butt cake so he licked the poem good.

| Posted on 2006-01-17 | by Approved Guest


.: from the vnerd haters :.

john donne was a wondeful man with a wopping great dong in his trunks and he stuck it up mr hoptons tight ass until his balls sweated like a pigs and then he swabbed his sweaty steamy balls, oh yes he swabbed. vnerd got done by donne and his fast steamy bollocks exploded in her face cos she is a slag and all the people smelt her pussy and stds because she is a whore aand then donney boy wrote this poem and shat on it for mr hoptons pleasure, and he loved the butt cake so he licked the poem good.

| Posted on 2006-01-17 | by Approved Guest


.: Got Life? :.

You people should be ashamed of yourselves, #1 there is a God; John Donne was smart enough to write about him, while you'll are too stupid to respect Him. for only "A fool has said in his heart ' there is no God ' Are you a fool? Whether you like it or not, your mortal life will come to an end = death! In the after-life, when you finally realize that there is a God, He will judge you by your works and by your words! Do you think He'll send you to Heaven? Not in the state your in now; God loves you, so do I, that's why i'm telling you this!

If you want eternal life, and if you want abundant life here on Earth, you need to read Acts 2:38
"Repent (of your sins) and be bapitezed in the name of Jesus Christ for the Remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT"
THIS MESSAGE IS FOR YOU!

God Bless
An Angel!! 777


June 6, 2006

| Posted on 2006-01-17 | by Approved Guest


.: :.

look up metaphysical poets 17th century, herbert jc grierson also has some info on john donne but not specifically this poem/sonnet but gives a sense of what donne is about, sonnets etc.

general analysis - plea to god / the holy trinity (father, son, holy spirit) wants to be "saved" from his sins, commands god to use physical force, to him lead him out of sinful way and instead into god's path, away from the devil but with all speaker's attempts falls short, is human therefore weakens "labours" to admit god and live in his likeness but to no avail - belief in the christian faith that man is born into sin. Speaker is desperate asks god to take into his hands only that way can he be redeemed and to use whichever means.

Talk about poetic technique / structure - sonnet, italian sonnet & rhyme scheme, alliteration/assonance/paradox/tone etc. Good luck, am also writing essay and think his poetry is incredible but very difficult to analyse and interpret...and write about!

| Posted on 2005-07-06 | by Approved Guest




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