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A Short Analysis of John Donne’s ‘Batter my heart, three-person’d God’

A reading of a classic Donne poem

‘Batter my heart, three-person’d God’: a typically blunt and direct opening for a John Donne poem, from a poet who is renowned for his bluff, attention-grabbing opening lines. This poem, written using the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet form, sees Donne calling upon God to take hold of him and consume him, in a collection of images that are at once deeply spiritual and physically arresting.

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 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; Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘A Light Exists in Spring’

A summary of a classic spring poem

‘A Light Exists in Spring’ is not Emily Dickinson’s best-known poem, but it is a fine poem about the spring season, so we wanted to offer a few words of analysis of it here. The poem doesn’t appear to be online anywhere already in the ‘correct’ form – i.e. how it’s rendered in the Complete Poems, with the right words capitalised and those trademark dashes in the right place. Here is ‘A Light Exists in Spring’ as it appears in the Complete Poems.

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period –
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

A summary of a much-misunderstood classic poem

‘The Road Not Taken’ is one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems. It appeared in his first collection, Mountain Interval, in 1916; indeed, ‘The Road Not Taken’ opens the volume. For this reason, it’s natural and understandable that many readers take the poem to be Frost’s statement of individualism as a poet: he will take ‘the road less travelled’. But when we analyse Frost’s poem more closely, we realise how inaccurate such a summary of the poem is. Frost himself, two years before his death, lamented the way readers and critics had misinterpreted the poem, which he called ‘tricky’. You can read ‘The Road Not Taken’ here.

Rather than offer a summary of ‘The Road Not Taken’, we’ll undertake a brief paraphrase of the poem’s meaning. ‘I came to a fork in the road in the yellow wood through which I was travelling, and wished I could have travelled both paths. But obviously that wasn’t an option, so I spent a long while standing there and deliberating which to choose. After spending a good while looking down one of the roads as far as I could see, I then took the other road, since it seemed just as nice. And it seemed to be preferable, perhaps, because it wasn’t as well-trodden as the other – its grass was less worn. Read the rest of this entry