John Donne was born for religious poetry. “A Hymn to God The Father” belongs to “Holy Sonnets” of John Donne, in which he, after careful analysis of his life, asks forgiveness of his sins. John Donne was not only a person who wrote religious poetry. Many poets tried to write religious poems, in which they praised the God and the Christ. Romans and Greeks had also written hymns, in which they praised their gods. As for as Christianity is concerned, many poets dedicated their lives to write holy sonnets. John Donne is greatest among them. Donne is remembered until today because no one can surpass him in writing religious poems. Although he started from love poetry, yet his fame was dependent on “Holy Sonnets”. Click to read the actual poem on poetryfoundation instead of analysis of “A Hymn to God The Father”.
Donne starts the poem with a plea of forgiveness for the first sin; the sin which was committed by Adam and Eve. Although John Donne has no contribution in it, yet he puts his plea in front of God while remembering the very first sin of humankind. From the start of the first stanza, it seems that the poet is not trying to praise God but getting forgiveness from Him for his sins and the universal sin. Readers can witness the theme of repentance and regret in the very first stanza of the poem. John Donne knows that he is not part of very first sin but he also knows that he is not perfect; therefore, he focuses on forgiveness and mercy of the God. In his life, he has committed many sins. He strongly repents on his wrongdoings.
Thus, the first stanza of the poem is a type of confession; however, the poet has not revealed his sins to his readers. Furthermore, Donne is talking generally. He knows that “to err is human”. Every person has lust. No one is perfect. No one can control himself. Sin is part of human nature. Donne knows that control is necessary but repentance and forgiveness are made because God also knows human nature. The last line of this stanza “For I have more” reveals that Donne is fully conscious about his sins.
Man does not only commit sins but also encourages other peoples to do the same. “Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won; Others to sin, and made my sin their door?” Donne asks forgiveness for this too. Forgiveness after forgiveness; Donne is expecting the mercy of God for his sins. Some critics tried to collect information from the autobiography of John Donne but the information in the poem is too low to reach a specific point. Many critics agree on the point that the word “Done” in the poem is actually the name of John Donne; similarly, the word “more” refers to his wife Anne More.
Be that as it may, Donne may have some personal issues with his wife and maybe, he is asking forgiveness of Almighty for those sins. However, what may be the case, it is true that the poet is badly in need of forgiveness. “When thou hast done, thou hast not done, / For, I have more; It is a tickling vanity about the puns on his own name though John Stubbs’s remarks are considerable in this regards:-
““A Hymn to God The Father” stands out for its calmness.”
Donne is not sure about his end. He has doubt regarding his union with the Divine. He has fear in his mind that he will disappear after his death. However, it seems that he has a strong belief in the afterlife. The last stanza of the poem has much significance. Donne’s journey from love poetry to divine poetry is evident from this stanza. The poet wants to be superior. He wants to go near God. It is, therefore, in the last stanza he has fear in his mind regarding his identity in the eyes of Almighty. He believes that he has not achieved spiritual powers; the powers, which can bring him closer to God. Thus, he has no other solution except to ask forgiveness. What he wants is mercy and that too at the time of his last breath. If the mercy is awarded to the poet, he “fear[s] no more”.
Technical Analysis of “A Hymn to God The Father” transpires that the poem has three stanzas and each stanza has six lines. Stanza scheme is “ABABAB”. John Donne has not used any conceit in this poem. Poet has guilt in his mind regarding his origin and his sins. The mood of the poet is sad. The theme of the poem is of repentance and forgiveness. Donne is confessing his sin without revealing them to his readers. He wants further Divine aid in order to get success in next life. He is hopeful that Christ and God would be merciful and he will definitely be successful in eternal life. The poet, at the end of every stanza, writes “For I have more” but when he ends the poem, he writes “I fear no more”. It seems that he has found a way to success in both lives i.e. forgiveness.
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