Batter My Heart, Three Person’d-God Poem by John Donne Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


“Batter My Heart, Three Person’d God” is a poem written by John Donne. It is the 14th sonnet of his famous Holy Sonnets and is considered to be one of the best. 

About the Poet:

John Donne (1572-1631) was a prominent English poet and scholar. A cleric in the Church of England, he was considered the greatest of the metaphysical poets at that time. Famous works of his include ‘The Flea’, ‘Holy Sonnets’, and ‘The Sun Rising’.


This poem is structured in the format of a Petrarchan sonnet. Accordingly, it follows the rhyme scheme ‘abbaabba cdcdee’. 

Explanation of the Poem:

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,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd 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.

The poem begins with the persona asking the “three-person’s God” to “batter” their heart. For this God previously having used gentle methods such as to “knock” and “shine”, amongst a few, have proven to be futile. For the persona to “rise and stand”, the persona asserts that God ought to be rough with them– “o’erthrow” them, “bend” them and use their “force” to “break, blow, burn” to forge them a“new”.

Then, the persona goes on to call themselves “an usurp’d town” which belonged to the conquered; hence was due to “another”. Hence, they felt as though they no longer belonged to God. Even their intellect and “reason”, which the persona calls God’s “viceroy” in them seem to be just as captive as they themselves were, unable to defend and proving to be “weak or untrue” before the enemy forces. Yet, the persona declares, they “dearly” love God and wished for the feeling to be reciprocated. They despair that they are “betroth’d” to God’s enemy instead and beseech God to somehow “divorce” this union, to “untie or break that knot again”. They implore God to “imprison” them instead for it is under God that they will truly “be free”. The poem ends with the persona declaring that they shall never be “chaste” unless God “ravish”es them.


This is a deeply meaningful poem. It is a poem where a devotee beseeches God to save them from external forces that threatened to make them lose faith, even as it beautifully expresses the persona’s eternal servitude to God.