Professor Benavidez Jr.
14 October 2018
Evidence Versus Faith; The Eternal Question
The concept of God is as old as humanity itself; since we were agricultural tribes staring at the stars we have fantasized and concocted numerous different versions of the same idea. However, with the concept of God there is always the ever-increasing idea and pondering of if God truly exists and the question of if we need tangible evidence or simply blind faith. Batter my heart, three-person’d God by John Donne raises the long-asked question of whether us as human beings can accept an all-powerful creator or God into our souls and surrender ultimately to him or if it is illogical and wrong to blindly follow in faith; Donne accomplishes this through his 14th Holy Sonnet through his strong and cruel diction and tone as well as using his life and conversation with God as a metaphor which allows him to explore both aspects of this unanswerable question.
This sonnet by Donne immediately starts out with an intense tone and heavy diction in its first lines which set up the theme of this poem as not a light-hearted praising of God and his abilities but a harsh and demanding cry out to him. The first line of the Sonnet is the title, forcing the reader to gloss over it twice; this is important because it shows whom the speaker is directing the demands he details in the sonnet below. He is talking to the three personed God who represents the Christian idea of the Holy Trinity in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is further backed up by the knowledge that John Donne was a cleric in the Church of England in his time as well as this being a holy sonnet (Brackett). John immediately requests that God batter his soul as opposed to the trifling matters God has taken before by only simply knocking or breathing on it; this form of battering is in reference to medieval warfare when a town under siege would have its walls torn down by a battering ram (Brackett) and when seen with Donne’s later metaphor as him as a usurped town can be seen as him begging God to break into his heart and steal back his love from those who rule him now. Lines 3 and 4 continues Donne’s begging for righteous justice to be stricken down upon him but it’s in the tail end of line 4 that it is revealed as to why Donne is requesting all of this punishment; it’s so he may be made new by God. There are two ways to interpret this revelation, one being the Christian idea of being born again during your life so that you may be saved after living without God for most of your life while the other being the idea that people only truly experience happiness after death in heaven and life on Earth should be pain and suffering (Brackett). Donne however, was angling for the born-again angle as the subsequent lines of the stanza more heavily reflect that his conflict with God is the idea he needs to find him again as opposed to seeing the world as full of pain and sufferi...