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Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

by John Donne

Romance with God

Symbol Analysis

So, in classic Metaphysical Poet tradition, Donne doesn't make anything super-explicit, but it's hard to read this poem without noticing some sexual overtones. "O'erthrow me, and bend Your force" and "[I] labour to admit you" are examples of moments that carry sexual weight.

Plus, the final line of the poem is hard to ignore: "Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." The speaker seems to try to give a more specific flavor to his demands here at the end of the poem. How about this: in struggling to make what he really wants concrete, the speaker finally admits his thoughts through the entire poem – the closest he can come to describing what he wants from God is through the metaphor of being ravished by God.

  • Lines 3-4: "o'erthrow me, and bend / Your force" might be a part of the sexual metaphor.
  • Line 6: "Labour to admit you" may be similarly part of the sexual metaphor.
  • Line 13: To "enthrall" someone means to put them in captivity or slavery. But, the word can have some sexual overtones, if it refers to being under someone's erotic power.
  • Line 14: "Ravish" carries the connotation of “taking advantage of someone,” even if it also means the less sexual "fill with delight." This is where the sexual metaphor is most prominent.

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