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In John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 14" which begins with "Batter my heart, three-personed...

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shani28 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 14, 2012 at 5:20 AM via web

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  • In John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 14" which begins with "Batter my heart, three-personed God," what sort of relationship with God does the speaker ask for?

To what sorts of things does he compare that relationship? What might explain the speaker's use of such surprising, even violent comparisons?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 14, 2012 at 3:33 PM (Answer #1)

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In John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 14," the speaker asks for a passionate relationship with God.  Donne's use of figurative language, primarily extended metaphor, compares his heart to a "usurp'd town" which he would like to see violently overthrown by God's power.  He compares reason to a viceroy who would try to defend the gates, but sees his heart as a willing captive.

The surprising, even violent comparisons reveal the speaker's ardent desire to have God's presence in his life. A passive, or even gentle approach would not be enough to draw the speaker away from the enemy.  Donne's forceful diction reinforces the urgency and passion of the speaker to know God. 



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