If some of poems in the Anthology were to be changed, which poem would you most like the keep in the selection? Justify you choice of poem, using literary and linguistic concepts and approaches.
If I were to choose a poem to remain the selection I would choose Sonnet: ‘Batter My Heart’ by John Donne. The reason I would choose the poem is because of the remarkable emotion portrayed and the strong, powerful imagery used. ‘Batter my heart’ is a religious poem, ultimately addressing god himself. It is a plea to god from the perspective of a sinner as he desperately tries to establish faith through argument. Trying to convince himself as much as god. The theme of desperation grows from anger to a apologetic tone. The poem is written in a colloquial fashion and true to Donnes metaphysical side, seen in his other poems. The poem is written in first person, and this is used to create a heart felt and disturbing account of Donne’s thoughts.
The poem is in the form of Shakespearian sonnet, this is ironic, due to sonnets being used primarily to express love. Donne uses this to shock and further the extremity of the piece. The form of the poem splits between being imperative and apologetic. The poem begins with imperative sentences such as ” make mee new” and ” o’erthrow me”. The use of imperative sentences give an aggressive and demanding feel. Yet as I reader I can understand Donne has no real command or authority over god. This aggression furthered through the use of the active verbs such as ” batter my heart”. Verbs are used consistently in the first four lines, creating a fast paced start. The poem features a number of complex sentences such as ” I, Like an usuprt towne, to another due”. This adds a sense of intellect and thought giving a structure to the argument and thus appearing well though out.
A lexis of war is evident with words such as ” Knocke, force, breake, defend, enemie”. This relates to the situation Donne is experiencing with God to war, it is a struggle of a man that is deeply troubled and is fighting a battle; possibly referring to his own sins. The repetition of monosyllabic words can be seen, ” Knocke” , ” Breathe” , “Shine”. Once again creating a fast flowing read intensifying the situation and drama. It also allows the poem to start explosively giving the feeling of urgency.
I was particularly fond of the paradoxical sets used in this poem. Examples of these are ” Mend/breake”, ” breathe/blow”, ” Betroth’d,/divorce”. These opposite equivalents are spread through lines two and four. It shows contrast and adds excitement, while illustrating the need for action from God once again creating an urgency to the piece. They are also very shocking at times, Donne claiming he is ” Betroth’d to the enemie” for example. The enemie being the devil, claiming you are destined to be married to the devil is a outrageous thing to say in that era. It only amplifies the sacrifice Donne is trying to make to show God he is desperate. The paradox that Donne will only be free once God imprisons him is something I found particularly intriguing. ” Take mee to you, imprison mee”. A very powerful image that is the pinnacle of desperation in this abstract poem.
The poem uses alliteration, for example ” Break, Blow, Burne”. Takes the initial ‘B” sound from “Batter my heart”. Repeating it in lines two and four. Adding the repetition gives a harsher sound, creating a darker aura and furthering the theme.
The last line could be perceived as inappropriate or untasteful. ” Nor even chaste, except you ravish mee”. The image of rape in the final line is a exceptionally strong conclusion. It is a remarkable comparison of Donne’s relationship with God. And shows the reader perfectly the mental state of which Donne is in. He has sinned to a point and created so many barriers in the way of his faith that only God can save him now, and must act.
The reason I chose to keep this selection is for Donne’s use of logical argument while visiting the extremes of emotional boundaries, creating a haunting struggle, through imagery and violent language of a very troubled man.