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Violence is a way in which the speaker of Holy Sonnet 14 imagines God manifesting his love. God's more gentle efforts to remind the speaker of his presence haven't done the trick, so the speaker demands more extreme gestures like breaking, blowing, and burning.

Questions About Violence

  1. Does the speaker assign a value judgment to violence and warfare? Are they good or bad things?
  2. Why does the speaker want God to be so violent?
  3. Can sex and violence be separated in this poem?

Chew on This

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

The meter and phonetics of the concluding couplet suggest that sex is a gentler and more intimate act than the violent imagery around it would suggest.

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