Good Friday, 1613 Riding Westward, is a religious poem, which was written by John Donne two years before his ordination in the Anglican Church. This is basically a personal poem in which he makes his personal assessment. He rides westward on a Good Friday. During his ride, he is overridden by a divine thought. He feels a little sore about it. He thinks that his soul wants to go to the east whereas physically he is moving to the west. If he had moved to the East, he would have met Jesus Christ and his sins would have been washed away. Basically, the poet’s heart is torn by inner conflicts. On one side, he is attracted by worldly pleasure, but on the other side, he yearns for religious devotion. He is very much conscious of his sinful life. He compares it with the revolution of nine spherical planets on their orbits. Due to some astronomical effects, movement is deflected from their right paths and they cannot complete their revolution in their specified time. (Good Friday by John Donne)
As these spheres deviate from their original paths due to the gravitational pull of the other spheres, similarly man leaves the right path on account of worldly attractions and pleasures.
Then the poet describes his concern about Christ’s crucifixion as that it is too painful for him. He goes even to that extent to tell that it was like the death of God Himself. He also pays tribute to the suffering of Mary, the mother of Christ, who by her own sacrifice contributed to the saving of humankind.
When he rides westward, he thinks that Christ will pardon his sins. He realizes that being a sinner does not deserve God’s mercy and that he must pay for his sins. Only when he is forgiven he will face Jesus Christ who will recognize and bless him. (Good Friday by John Donne)