Why does the poet experience fear at the end of the  poem? What promise dose he want from God?"A Hymn to God,the Father" by John Donne

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fear expressed at the end of Donne's poem reflects a freight at a world where the presence and power of God is not experienced.  In the last stanza, I think the critical line that conveys this is the imagery surrounding the line "If I should perish at the shore."  The idea here is that while the speaker, presumably Donne himself, has sinned and erred throughout his life, the repentance and subservience to God is what will allow him to overcome the nature of his sins, and allow God to bathe him in the "shine" of heavenly light.  If this is absent, then the speaker will feel that all of his actions have been misguided and without purpose.  It is this notion, the presence of God in the midst of sin and evil that allows Donne to have the courage to endure and eventually triumph. All Donne needs for confirmation of his and God's place in the world is to

...swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.   (Donne)