An Analysis of Holy Sonnet 14 by John Donnes

As a Christian, John Donne writes his Holy Sonnet 14: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God as a traditional orthodox prayer. He writes in the context of addressing God with praise at the beginning and the end of his prayer. In his prayer he also admits he is a sinner and asks for redemption. This particular course follows the same structure of numerous prayers found throughout the Bible. One of the most prominent of them is The Lords Prayer told by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13.

We know that John Donne was a traditional orthodox Christian by the way he addresses God. He refers to God as a three-personed God in line one. He refers to God as three persons in one unit, not separate, for a reason. Traditional Christianity explains God as being made up of three parts: The Father, The Son; The Holy Ghost. Therefore when Donne refers to God this way we know he is addressing in the traditional orthodox Christian way.

In Christianity, the Bible teaches us how to pray. One example is when Jesus recited The Lords Prayer. He was setting a particular course that he wanted Christians to follow. The first part of His prayer begins with addressing God and giving Him praise when He says Our Father [] Hallowed be Thy name. (9). Donne follows this by addressing God in the first line. He then goes directly into praising God by saying, You/As but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend (1-2). He says these particular words to let God know that: He is the one who gives us all breath; He is the one who shines above everything: He is the one that helps us out more than any other thing.

Secondly Donne admits that he is a sinner. He states that in order for him to be able to be a new person and rise and stand (3) before God, he must first be overthrown and broken. He goes on to say that he is engulfed in sin and is essentially in an unwanted relationship with evil. Donne states these things in order to show God that what he truly wants is He. In the Bible it tells us that in order to become a new person in God, we must first repent of all our sins. In The Lords Prayer Jesus says, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. (12). In modern terms it means that we are asking God to forgive us as we have forgiven everyone else who has done wrong against us.

Then Donne asks God to release him from the bondages of sin and to come into his life. He says this in lines 11 and 12 when he states, Divorce me, untie or break that knot and when he asks God to imprison him. Donne asks these things from God knowing that He is the only one who can do these things. In traditional prayers, after asking for forgiveness we ask for some sort of guidance and assistance in our new walk with God. In Matthew 6: 13, Jesus says lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This is exactly what Donne is trying to convey in his poem. He knows that God is the only one who can help him walk in a new light and this is what he is asking God to do.

Furthermore, Donne ends his prayer with praise. He does so with great passion and adoration towards the one who has just set him free. He states in lines 13 and 14 that he wants to be held and made pure. He states this by using word with great emotion: enthrall; chaste; ravish. He praises God with using these words because he knows that God is a very passionate God and loves to be honored and adorned. Jesus also states this when He says, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. (13). By stating that God has the kingdom, it means that God has everything. By saying that God has all the power and glory, it means that God is omnipotent and deserves all praise. And then by saying forever, it means for eternity.

In conclusion it is very legitimate to say that John Donnes Holy Sonnet 14 is a personal prayer and a very traditional Christian one. Donne begins his prayer with praise and then ends with more. He also is sure to include asking for forgiveness, for he knows that God is the only one who can give it. And he asks God to help him in his walk not because he is just talking to Him already, but because he knows that He is the only way that Donne can be free. After all, this is the way that God, Himself, told us traditional orthodox Christians how to pray.

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