Study Guide

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14) Sex

By John Donne

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Sex in this Holy Sonnet 14 is a metaphor our speaker uses for the way in which God might demonstrate his love for the speaker. The speaker really wants a close, reciprocal relationship with God, and one of the only ways he can imagine a relationship like this working is through an encounter of a sexual nature.

Questions About Sex

  1. What does "chastity" mean in this poem?
  2. Given that Adam, Eve, and Jesus are all born without involving sex, why can't the speaker separate God from the idea of sex?
  3. Look closely at the meter and phonetics (sound qualities) of the moments when the speaker talks about sex. Anything interesting?
  4. Sex is generally considered something enjoyable for both people. Rape is more about violently satisfying one person's desire at the expense of another. Which does the speaker want?

Chew on This

While the identity of God breaks down from the first line, the speaker uses the whole sonnet to build consistently toward a sexual, rather than spiritual, resolution.

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