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GOOD FRIDAY, 1613. RIDING WESTWARD, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

John Donne's "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward" is a religious poem that explores the themes of faith, doubt, and spiritual crisis. The poem was first published in Donne's posthumous collection of poems, "Poems by J.D. With Elegies on the Author's Death," in 1633. In this critical essay, we will examine the themes, style, and structure of "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward" and analyze the ways in which it reflects Donne's unique vision of the Christian faith.

One of the central themes of "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward" is the idea of spiritual crisis. The poem opens with the speaker riding westward on Good Friday, a day of solemn religious observance. However, the speaker's thoughts are not focused on the religious significance of the day, but rather on his own doubts and fears. The poem suggests that even the most devout believer can experience moments of doubt and spiritual crisis, and that these moments can be profound and unsettling.

Another important theme in the poem is the idea of faith and redemption. The speaker acknowledges that he is "dispossessed," that is, that he feels estranged from God and from his own spiritual identity. However, the poem suggests that through faith and devotion, the speaker can find redemption and regain his sense of spiritual purpose.

In terms of style, "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward" is characterized by its dense and complex language, which is marked by frequent use of metaphysical conceits and paradoxes. The poem opens with a paradoxical statement, as the speaker declares that he is "upon a tack / Here the ship melts" - a reference to his own sense of disorientation and instability. The poem also features a series of rhetorical questions, which create a sense of urgency and intensity, as the speaker seeks to understand his own spiritual crisis.

Structurally, the poem is organized into six quatrains. The first two quatrains establish the speaker's sense of disorientation and crisis, while the third and fourth quatrains introduce the idea of faith and redemption. The fifth and sixth quatrains conclude the poem by returning to the theme of spiritual crisis, but with a renewed sense of hope and possibility. This structure creates a sense of progression and development, as the poem moves from a state of confusion and doubt to a sense of hope and redemption.

In conclusion, "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward" is a powerful and poignant reflection on the themes of faith, doubt, and spiritual crisis. Through its exploration of these themes, the poem offers a profound meditation on the nature of faith and the human condition. 


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