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The Sonnet XIV
Posted by: Aisha Burrus (
Date: November 07, 2000 03:59PM

Hey Im an Ap English student in high school and my teacher asked us to demonstrate how the speaker used paradox to express the intensity of his emotion and to strengthen his arguments in appeal for God's help in The Sonnet XIV by John Donne. If there is anyone who could help me out just a bit it would be greatly appreciated, Thanks in advance, Aisha

RE: The Sonnet XIV
Posted by: Leonard Wilson (
Date: November 09, 2000 01:07AM

The entire poem is loaded with paradox. For instance, line 3 says "That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee," and in the next line he uses images that would indicate destruction ('''breake, blowe, burn"), but asks that God use these forces to "make me new."

The famous paradoxes of the final couplet--

for I
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.--

are a rather violent way of saying that if God wants him, He is going to have to beat him forcefully into submission.

The overall idea of the poem is, of course, that the poet is too weak, too much under the domination of the world and the devil, to come to God on his own, although he loves God and wants to belong to him. He is pleading with God to take him by force, to batter him and wrench him violently away from his worldly enslavement and make him a prisoner of the divine instead. The power of the harsh imagery shows the intensity of the poet's emotion.


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