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Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

by John Donne

Religion Theme

The subject of Donne's Holy Sonnet 14 is religion, even if it's masked by love, sex, and general mayhem. At the most basic level, this is a poem in which a man asks for forgiveness and salvation from God, but he expresses his frustration that God hasn't revealed himself forcefully enough. The speaker, though, is unclear on what the forgiveness and salvation will entail, and how to make sure that God's message gets through to him.

Questions About Religion

  1. Do you think the speaker believes God to be capable of the things for which he asks?
  2. Is this a uniquely Protestant poem, or could it apply just as well to other branches of Christianity, or even other religions?
  3. Can you see different treatments of different members of the Holy Trinity anywhere in the poem?
  4. What does the speaker mean by "bend / Your force?"
  5. What's up with the rhyme scheme in the third quatrain (group of four lines)? How come "enemy" and "I" make such an unusual rhyme?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker of Holy Sonnet 14 is more interested in worshipping himself and his own rhetoric than any sort of higher spiritual authority.

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