Study Guide

A Hymn to God the Father Compassion and Forgiveness

By John Donne

Compassion and Forgiveness

Along with his preoccupation with sins, the speaker of "A Hymn to God the Father" is pretty concerned with whether God will forgive all those sins. The speaker is of Christian tradition, which means he believes God's son died for humankind's salvation, but he still questions whether God really will let him into Heaven. He even wonders if he'll be forgiven for doubting God, since that is a sin, too. The spiritual stress seems to be piling up in layers for this poor guy.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Does the speaker really believe he will be forgiven? If so, why does he question God so frequently?
  2. How does the speaker conclude that God's forgiveness works? Is there a moment in the poem where he comes to that conclusion? 
  3. Is the speaker trying to forgive himself, too? How can you tell?

Chew on This

Rather than ask for forgiveness each time, the speaker should just, you know, stop sinning.

The speaker believes that, as long as he has the son of God in his life, he'll continue to be forgiven—sweet. The questions he's asking are not as important as the conclusion he reaches.