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Trinity Love Knot Meaning

Laura asks…

Could i have some help with a poetry analysis of John Donnes poem “Batter my heart three person’d god: for you?

I need to provide a reading of the poem, and write an essay commenting on the relation of this poem to other poems by John Donne, as well as what the poem actually means, and the use of similes and metaphors, the rhythm and patter in the poem. I could really use some help. The poem is below:
74. “Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you”

BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due, 5
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie: 10
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

LoveKnots answers:

I’ll provide an interpretation of the poem for you, and a bit of analysis, but you’ll have to decide how it relates to his other works.

What he’s saying is this…the “three person’d God” is the holy trinity, Father/Son/Holy Spirit, and he’s asking God to move him from his ways of sin, his engagement to the Devil (betroth’d unto your enemie) by “battering” his heart. This is like the flagellation inflicted by monks to purge themselves of sin and sinful thoughts, only he’s asking God to do it to his heart, not his flesh. He says that he wants God to take his heart captive and ravish him in his glory, and in his name, because he so dearly loves him (God). He says he knows he’s weak, and therefore needs God to be strong with him. The poem is written in Iambic Pentameter with a rhyme pattern of ABBA ABBA CDCD EE, which is in a sonnet style. The metaphors are “three person’d God”, “Reason your Viceroy” (reason is given human traits), “your enemie”. The simile is “I, like an usurpt town”.

Betty asks…

Does this poem contain synecdoche or metonomy, if so where?

and is there apostrophe
just one example of each is fine

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

LoveKnots answers:


Well this is a rather complex question. I’ll have a go at finding them in the poem and also give a little definition of the term, as I understand it, to see if we are on the same page

I would say that the poem does contain an example of apostrophe, which basically means a vocative address to an absent, I would say this is identifiable when the speaker in the poem refers to the ‘three-person’d God’. However you play devil’s advocate and suggest that God is not an absent in the Christian sense as he’s considered to be with you at all times, the idea of omnipresence. I’d say as an atheist that this is an example but it’s up for debate.

Now then, synecdoche and metonomy (I think you mean metonymy so I’m going to presume so). These two are more tricky in my opinion, They are quit similar and so can be hard to distinquish between the two.

Right let’s define them, synecdoche which basically means using part to stand for a whole. The example I remember being used for this is ‘all HANDS on deck’ here hands is the synecdoche.

Then theres metonymy, i’ll give you Katie Wales definition ‘a Rhetorical figure or trope by which the name of a referent is replaced by the name of an attribute, or of an entity releated in some semantic way’ examples of which are ‘common in everyday language: phrases like the press (‘newspaper’), the stage (‘theartre’)’. An easy way to get your head around metonymy is to know that the word comes from the Greek ‘name change’ which kind of simplifies the idea a little.

Right understanding this then you should consider ‘three-person’d God’ which I’d say is an example of synecdoche. The ‘three-person’d God’ is a reference to the Trinity (the father, the son and the holy spirit) and the idea of one godhead and a Triune God. So then the ‘thre-person’d’ is the part which stands for the whole (the father, the son and the holy spirit).

Hope that Helped.

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