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Gillian Blackiston
Dr. Francis
English 226
November 13, 2014
Donnes Holy Sonnet 10
1

10

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for, you


As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, oerthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captivated, and proves weak or untrue,
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy,
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The Italian sonnet form is clearly displayed in John Donnes Holy Sonnet 10. The sonnet is
set in the time period where there was a lot of religious upheaval going on. The established
church is taking the lead to follow the Presbyterians. With all of the religious confusion going
on, many people do not have a clear idea what a relationship with God is like. Throughout
Sonnet 10, Donne takes a look at what he feels the relationship with God is like and it is not as
good was what everyone expects.
In the sonnet, the first four lines form one sentence that starts the picture of the relationship
with God. In the first line the reader can start to see how the man is being treated by God. Donne
refers to his spiritual beliefs by saying three-personed God as a reference to the Trinity of the
Bible. He is trying to show people that the relationship with God is not with just one person, but
with three people. By showing that the relationship is between four people instead of two, it

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shows the complexity of it. In line two, the reader can start to see how the man sees the others in
the relationship and what he expects them to do to him. The man, who is the narrator of the
sonnet, thinks that he is going to have to be hurt in order to receive the good grace of God. HE
shows this through his word choice in the rest of the first quatrain. For example, he uses a lot of
words that imply hurt. In line two, the narrator says, seek to mend; which says that something
has happened to him that he is going to God in order to heal from the wounds. This set of words
also imply that other actions have taken place that has caused harm to him in the place in order
for him to require to be mended. In the next line, the narrator tries to show that he is strong
enough to be some sort of equal to the other half of the relationship. The narrator says, That I
may rise, and stand . . . (3). This shows that the man is trying to show that he does not always
need to be mended and that he can do things on his own. However, in the last line of the
quatrain, the reader can see how God treats the man to show that he is the ultimate healer in the
relationship. The last line says, To break, blow, burn and make me new (4). All of these words
resemble things that are meant to cause harm and things that will need to take healing. This last
line clearly shows that God wants to be the one in control of the relationship and wants the man
to come to him to receive the blessings that he has. Overall, the first quatrain starts to show how
the relationship between God and man is like a married couple.
The rest of the sonnet forms another sentence. This is a little different than other Italian
sonnets because there is usually a sentence or two in the first eight lines and then another
sentence or more in the last six lines to show the problem and resolution of the sonnet. However,
that is not the case in this sonnet. This sonnet still shows a solution to the problem in the last six
lines, but it is contained within the same sentence with part of the problem.

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In the next quatrain, the sonnet goes on to more things that the man is feeling neglected in the
marriage with God. The narrator describes himself as being like an usurped town (5) because
he seems to feel like he was seized into the relationship without his authority. The man feels like
God just wanted him to be his and took him without asking him what he wanted first. The next
line shows that the narrator is having a hard time to admit to you, but oh, to no end, (6) going
along with God and does not seem to be willing to do everything that he asks of him. In the
following two lines, the narrator is talking about trying to reason with himself about the
relationship, but does not seem to be able to do so. In line seven, the poet says, reason your
viceroy in me, me should defend, where the narrator is having an internal struggle with himself
about who to defend. In the last line of the quatrain that wraps up the problem portion of the
sonnet, the poet says, but is captivated, and proves weak or untrue (8). Here the poet is trying
to convey the uneasy feelings about relationship between God and man and how the man feel not
superior or on the same field as God.
In the last six lines of Sonnet 10, the narrator reveals the solution of the relationship to
the readers. The first line of the solution starts off with the volta, which shows that the poem is
turning corners starts with the word yet. By starting the end of the sonnet with the word yet
shows that the man is not entirely unhappy with the marriage that he is in with God. The line
continues to say, Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, (9). This shows that despite
all the bad things that has happened in the relationship, the narrator still cannot help the fact that
he still has deep lovely feelings for God. The narrator also not does not think that he deserves
God because he says that his true belonging is to Gods enemy (10), which can refer to Satan.
The narrator can think this because of all the sins that people go through every day. He does not
quite understand the deep forgiveness of God. The poet tries to tell God to divorce me, . . .

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imprison me (11-2) because he thinks that the relationship between God and man should not be
this good. However, the narrator claims that God has feelings for us that it is hard for him to
simply let God go. The couplet expresses these feelings by saying, Except you enthrall me,
never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me (13-4). The narrator claims that
despite his best efforts, something about God keeps him from trying to get away from the
relationship. This shows that the relationship with God is not what everyone expects.