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Donne’s Hymn to God the Father

October 30, 2016

A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER.
by John Donne

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin by which I’ve won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

Questions:

  1. What sins does Donne confess in the first stanza? The second? The third?
  2. Do these sins grow less or more serious as Donne progresses? Which is most serious of all? Why?
  3. How does Donne pun on his name? What other puns does he employ?
  4. What images does Donne use, and to what effect?
  5. In view of the foregoing, what is the overall message of the poem?
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