As a young poet, John Donne often utilized metaphors of spiritual bond in many of his Songs and Sonnets in order to explain fleshly love. Once he renounced Catholicism and converted to the Anglican faith (circa 1597), Donne donned a more devotional style of verse, such as in his Holy Sonnets (circa 1609-1610), finding parallels to divine love in the carnal union. In many ways, however, his love poems and his religious poems are quite similar, for they both address his personals deep-seated fear of isolation by women and God, respectively. For example, in Song, Donnes speaker tells an unknown person (presumably male) that if he would Ride ten thousand days and nights he would return And swear/ Nowhere/ Lives a woman true, and fair (ll. 12; 16-18).
Similarly, in Holy Sonnet 2, the speaker voices fear that God will not be with him on his day of reckoning: Oh I shall soon despair when I do see/ That Thou lost mankind well, yet wilt not choose me (ll. 12-13).
Whereas many of Donnes love poems display a speakers anxiety and anger about his inability to sustain affection from a woman, Donne transferred that theme of resentment towards women to frustration with God because he personally doubted his salvation. Why would Donne have felt unfulfilled spiritually during the time in which he wrote the Holy Sonnets Witherspoon and Warne posit that Donnes religious doubts seem to have been settled because after his conversion to Anglicanism, he led attacks against Roman Catholicism and published a treatise which encouraged English Catholics to take the oath of allegiance (58).
Imagery in 'The Broken Heart' John Donnes' poem 'The Broken Heart' is full of imagery, used to portray his broken heart. Donne uses the imagery so we can get a visual picture of what love means to him. He uses the imagery because it's necessary to see a picture of the pain he lives with. Donne uses several aspects of imagery, including death to show his grief and Donne also does uses despair to ...
While Donne abandoned Catholicism for Anglicanism willingly, records indicate that he did so primarily for reasons of self-preservation and self-advancement (Carey 60).
I propose that despite his genuine attempt to embrace the Anglican faith, he encountered seemingly insurmountable liturgical roadblocks that caused a long-lasting religious disorientation.
To leave one religion in order to embrace another with some fundamental differences with respect to eternal salvation must have troubled Donne greatly. As a Catholic, Donne probably believed that salvation was achieved by true contrition for sins, personal endeavor and virtuous behavior. As an Anglican, however, he was forced to adopt the Calvinistic approach that personal effort was futile and irrelevant; he must be chosen as one of the elect. Donne, then, reasonably must have felt that he was not one the elect when he converted, for he had sinned merely by being a Catholic. No longer cushioned by the assurances of Catholicism and its sacraments, he possessed a fear of eternal damnation. This was also a sin, for in order to be saved by God, one had to believe he was already saved.
In essence, fear of condemnation caused condemnation. Donnes Holy Sonnets reveal his consternation over his unworthiness as a Christian through speakers repeated attempts to beg God for redemption. In Sonnet 14 the speaker plays the martyr by asking God to brutally force redemption upon him, for the speaker cannot achieve it by the Catholic mode of prayer or the humanistic mode of reason. Simultaneously, Donne is able to be the martyr he could never be once he turned traitor to his original faith.
Famous for his metaphysical conceits, and his relentless pursuit of a faithful woman, Donne uses the most farfetched paradoxical juxtaposition of all: his speaker begs God to rape him or her in order to become chaste. Donne employs numerous poetic devices in order to suggest a symbolic rape that would win salvation for his speaker. The hard consonant B in the first quatrain alliterates the words batter, (l. 1) breathe, (l. 2) bend (l. 3), and break, blow, burn (l.
... be rescued even by force' (Giubbory 141).In the next two lines Donne pleads for God's help. This is seen ... Italian sonnet, but the poem continues with a quatrain and a couplet to round the last 14 ... anything blatantly sexual. Line nine begins as 'the speaker says he is like a woman who loves ... undertones are present they are not necessary in order to understand the poem. 'The sexual imagery, apparently ...
4) in order to conjure violent images. Notice, however that these violent images are welcomed, for in an extremely perverse way, Batter my heart (l. 1) is an example of the invitation sub-genre. The word heart was possibly Elizabethan slang for the vagina, and therein lies a very blatant sexual metaphor. Donne uses subtler sexual imagery in the first quatrain when the speaker continues to ask God for physical favors: overthrow me, and bend/ Your force (ll. 3-4).
From a sexual standpoint, the speaker asks God not to tease and tantalize, but rather to exert force upon him or her. This relates to Donnes religious dilemma in that in the first two lines, the speaker states that he or she does not want to be mend[ed] by God, but rather spiritually reborn. The speakers old self is insufficient, and no amount of prayer will qualify him as worthy of redemption. God must act first and make [the speaker] new (ll.
In the second quatrain of Holy Sonnet 14, Donne uses the simile of a usurped town to further portray the speaker as spiritually impotent.