Christianity | Literature in English, British Isles

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A paradox is a statement that appears contradictory but ultimately makes sense. “Sonnet XIV: Batter my heart, three person’d God” (1632) by John Donne reflects the many paradoxes within the Bible and Christian faith. Read within the context of his religious beliefs and the rest of the Holy Sonnets, “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” is a poem that exhibits Donne’s theology of God and the process of salvation. The speaker affirms that the power of the triune God is required to break the bonds of sin. He finds freedom from sin in submitting to God’s will, and he finds innocence in God’s act of saving love (lines 13-14). In the Bible, there exists a tension between the holy nature of God who judges and the merciful nature of God who also saves. Similarly, in this poem, there exists a tension between conflicting poetic devices. Donne uses diction, sound devices and form, figurative language, and explicit paradoxes to illustrate these conflicting statements about the Christian life. Since the abstract meaning of words is more important than their literal meanings, the poem demonstrates that the speaker eventually understands these complex, theological concepts.