John Donne’s famous sonnet, “Batter My Heart, Three Person’d God” reveals the intense spiritual passion of those whose “god-spot” in the brain is over-heated. Donne’s sonnet vividly conveys his deep desire to know God with complete abandonment though he also realizes that it is his rationality that stands in the way of this experience. He knows that this reason is itself a gift from God but intuitively knows that it has been “captive’d” by something or someone (i.e. Satan) so that it is useless in the quest for God without Divine intervention, unless his reason be “o’er thrown.”
Donne recognized that our reason is not the primary driving force in our lives, even with religious impulses. Being a poet he was in tune with depths of the heart which most of us never have any awareness of. He knew that the phenomena of “god” would come to fullest expression only from these hidden spiritual resources in our heart and never as the result of rationality. Donne was bringing to our attention that life is much more complicated than we like to think, knowing that our “thinking” when given primacy will always keep us on the surface of life.
But life spent on the surface will always be shallow and sorely lacking, with the absent quality always beckoning for attention. Some use the term “god” to refer to this driving force but any word choice is not important for words can never capture this experience though our “captive’d” would like us to think so. Religion was created to address this issue, the word itself meaning to bind together something which is divided.
Batter my heart, three-personed 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 usurped town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but Oh, 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 betrothed 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.