Review on John Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnet 14’
Poem: Holy Sonnet XIV Name of author: John Donne Imprisoned In the poem Holy Sonnet XIV, John Donne writes about the different imprisonments of life. In his poem he is saying that he has fallen for the temptations of Gods enemy, the devil, and he is asking God to break the hold the devil has on him. John portrays that he is trapped and bound by the evils of the devil, and he wishes to be “divorced”(11) from the devil to be once again imprisoned by the love of God, either way he knows he “never shall be free”(13).
The point John is making in this poem is that he loves God and no longer wishes to live with the sins and imprisonment of the devil, but rather be “enthralled”(13) by God. John first speaks of God as a “three-personed God”(1), meaning God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Throughout the poem John is at a fallen state, where he has fallen so hard it would be almost impossible for him to alone break the bond that he has with the devil, to be righteous and serve God. John is asking God to help him in breaking the bond, asking to “Batter”(1) his heart for God, breaking the unholy bond, the engagement that he has with the devil.
John wishes to be the God-loving person he knows he is. John needs God’s powerful ways to make him a new person, today some call it a “born-again believer”, and John so badly wants God to “make me new”(4). John feels as if he has been taken over by the devil. John is pleading his case in this poem, to God as to why God should help him, defend him, save him, and make him new. This poem is like Johns prayer, pleading to God his reasoning in why God should help him, since God is his “viceroy”(7) that he should want to defend him.
John is trapped as if he is held captive, and is weak and untrue to God, but at the same time still willingly and joyfully loves God. John uses the word “betrothed”(10) to emphasize that he has been tied, or engaged to the devil in his actions and wished to be “divorced”(11). John is saying he is bound by the devil and doesn’t want to be imprisoned by the devil, but instead be imprisoned by God. It’s like no matter what path John is on, whether it is the path of the devil, or the path of God, he will be imprisoned either way and never be free.
John grew up as a believer in God and he eventually grew to be known as “The Great Priest” by many people. A great priest doesn’t have to stray to far from God to feel as John felt in this poem because no one sin is greater than the other. This was not the first time John had felt he had strayed away from God “divorce me, untie, or break that knot again”(11). The Holy Sonnet XIV is about a man who felt as if he strayed away from God and how badly he wants God to help him get back on the right track, living for Him.
John was catholic at a time when anti-catholic sentiment was common. He began to question his faith when his brother Henry died. John then soon struggled near poverty to support his family for almost 10 years. With him being in hard times and straying away from his religion, to then come to pick back up into his religion is an example of his life and what he wanted people to know by reading this poem. After he got back to his normal life, in religion, he then became the priest that we know him to be today.