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John Donne: Poetry Analysis

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The narrator of this poem is John Donne, which he is known for being a metaphysical poet. A metaphysical poet is a poet “whose works are marked by philosophical exploration and with metrically flexible lines” ( Donne was a Roman Catholic, born in the year 1572 in London, England. His mother is named Elizabeth Heywood and John was named after his father. Donne’s favorite themes to write about were not only God but women as well, he wrote this poem after he was appointed to be a priest in the year 1615 in the Church of England. John pursued his education at Oxford University, Cambridge University and then at age twenty he further studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. Two years later he then decided to join the Anglican Church because his younger brother was imprisoned for being catholic in then died in prison. Donne created two fine volumes of work, one was Satire and the other was Songs and sonnets. In December 1601, Donne confidentially married a woman named Anne More and her father did not approve of the marriage so he had Donne imprisoned for a while as a punishment. While John was imprisoned for a short period it made the couple dependent on friends and family. His wife died at age thirty-three in the year 1617 after giving birth to their twelfth child. This legend that is well known for his cogent style died on March 31, 1631, in London at age fifty-nine.

The speaker of this poem is John Donne which he is speaking from a Christian context, the theme of the title of this poem is sensual and spiritual and in this poem God is considered to have three parts which are the father, the son, and the holy spirit. In (lines 1-2) Donne has this desire for God to extremely sabotage him. He is criticizing God to be more forceful with him. John wants to change as a person but God is only trying to renew him in little ways that aren’t enough for him. He needs to be renewed so he can be worthy of his presence.

In (lines 3-4) he wants to arise and stand but he is not going to because he wants God to overthrow(o’erthrow) him instead. Donne wants to be destroyed by God for him to be an immaculate spiritual being and person. In (lines 5-6) John begins to compare himself to a town that is being overrun, the enemy is coming so he is going to ask for help from another ally from another town to help him with this enemy. He is working his hardest to let God into his heart even though he is overrun with the enemy. So as much Donne tries to let God into his heart, it does not work for him, for Donne God must be more forceful and he needs to invade Donne’s heart.

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In (lines 7-8) he starts the line with the word, “reason” which is the ability to conclude. He then states, “your viceroy in me” and the meaning of viceroy is “a person who rules as the representative of someone.” which he is meaning that should be his sign that God is with him. The reason should let God in but for some reason is it not working for John. It should defend him from his enemies, which would be bad habits, evils, and flaws. Reasons actually should help him get closer to God because God gave him reason and if he is a reasonable person he will then make wise choices but it is not working. His reason has been held hostage by the enemy. His reason has been turned into a tool to the enemy, he should be able to think clearly, choose wisely but instead, his thoughts get him into trouble sometimes or his reasoning is too weak and does not lead him to the right decisions. His reasoned is flawed and will not always work which is another reason God needs to take over Donne.

In (lines 9-10) John loves God oh so dearly, and he gladly and confidently wants to be liked by God. In (line 10) Donne has “betrothed” which means “to give in to marriage,” he desires to be liked by God but he has been planned to marry the enemy. Since he is already attached to the enemy which is not good for him in any way possible so he needs God to help him immediately. In (lines 11-12) John wants Got to divorce him from the enemy, he wants God to rip him apart from the enemy. He wants God to untie and break the not from the enemy, he wants God to take him for himself. Donne wants God to incarcerate him so that he can be treated as the enemy but in a lovable manner. John wants God to be forceful to him, and to imprison him to his love jail because he expects God to consume him so he can finally be free.

In (line 13) John uses “enthrall” which means “capture the fascinated attention of” so unless God is going to enslave him and take him over he will never be free. The message is that he wants to be imprisoned by God so he can be free but he wants to be tied with God so he can finally have freedom. In (line 14) Donne uses “chaste” which means to “remain pure, not participating in anything sexual” he also uses “ravish” which means to “fill with intense delight.” He is saying he won’t ever be able to refrain from sexual conduct unless God has sex with him. He is asking God to invade, consume, him physically and spiritually for God to have sex with John Donne and John would be consumed by his beloved. God is his beloved who invades sexually but the result of this is to make John Donne to refrain from all sexual actions and to remain pure.

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John Donne: Poetry Analysis. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“John Donne: Poetry Analysis.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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