Batter my heart, three-personed God

by John Donne

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Batter my heart, three-personed God... How can I explain the contradictions in lines 2, 3, 13, and 14? And i don't know the meanings of "enthrall" (line 13) and "ravish" (line 14)  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.

John Donne uses paradox and ambiguity in his poem Batter my heart to describe the relationship between God and the believer. He begins by using marriage as a metaphor for this relationship. He then goes on to describe what that relationship would be like on a day to day basis, using images of discipline and chastisement.

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John Donne's "Batter My Heart" is full of paradox ( two things that seemingly can't be true but are) and ambiguity ( uncertainty of meaning). It is also full of Biblical imagery and metaphor. In Lines 2 and 3, Donne seems to echo the words in the Book of Hebrews ( part of the New Testament) that "For whom the Lord loves, he chastens and scourages every son he receives". This means God tests every believer. The metaphors used in the poem revolve around the idea that the relationship between God and the believer is like that in a marriage. The paradoxes in lines 2 and 3 resemble those events of marriage which can be both wonderful( "shine,breathe, mend") and challenging
( knock, bend, overthrow). As for the last two lines, Donne uses the words "entrall" and "ravish"in unusual ways. Both words have sexual connotations, but if we interpret entrall to mean "shelter" and "ravish" to mean "chastening or testing", then the line can be understood and Donne inviting God to discipline him harshly in order to spiritually purify him.

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