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Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)


by John Donne

The Unhappy Engagement / Affair with God

Symbol Analysis

In another metaphor that runs through this poem, the speaker describes an unhappy and inconvenient engagement with the "enemy," presumably the Devil. Where before, the speaker sets up God as an attacker, here, he wants God to be a home-wrecker. Strangely, he seems to want God to break up a marriage, even though we imagine God as a pretty staunch supporter of the institution. This metaphor, then, works more as an apology and plea for forgiveness, whereas the siege is more of a plea for liberation from forces the speaker can't control.

  • Line 5: The phrase "to another due" resonates with "betroth'd unto your enemy" as part of the same engagement metaphor. To be "due" can mean to be owed, or it can refer to a pledge to be married.
  • Lines 9-11: The main point here is that the speaker describes an engagement with this enemy that he hopes God (the one he actually loves) can help him escape. Since he doesn't actually plan to marry the Devil, this is a metaphor.

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