(sub)Text: The Violence of Redemption in John Donne’s “Batter My Heart” (Holy Sonnet 14)

In “Holy Sonnet 14,” John Donne would like his “three person’d God” to break instead of knock, blow instead of breathe, and burn instead of shine. This vision of redemption is about remaking rather than reform. And it seems to be motivated by a sense that neither reason nor the typical rhetoric of faith are not enough to bridge the mortal and the divine—what’s needed is God’s violent intervention. Wes & Erin discuss Donne’s surprising and paradoxical use of war and rape as metaphors for salvation.

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