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The Good Morrow by John Donne | Summary | Theme | Background

The Good Morrow by John Donne
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“Good Morrow” is a poem written by the English metaphysical poet John Donne. Here is the poem:

Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.“`

In this poem, Donne explores themes of love and unity. The speaker expresses a deep connection with their beloved, emphasizing the idea that true love unites souls and transcends physical boundaries.

The imagery of faces reflected in each other’s eyes and the metaphor of two hemispheres without division convey the idea of a harmonious and inseparable union. The poem celebrates the richness and completeness that love brings to the lovers’ lives.

ABOUT JOHN DONNE THE AUTHOR OF GOOD MARROW

John Donne (1572–1631) was an English poet, cleric, and lawyer known for his metaphysical poetry. Born into a Catholic family in Protestant England, he explored themes of love and religion. Donne’s early works focused on secular subjects, but he later underwent a religious conversion, becoming a respected Anglican preacher and eventually the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

His poetry is characterized by intellectual depth, conceits, and a blend of the spiritual and physical. Notable works include “The Flea,” “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” and “Holy Sonnets.”

Other Books Written by John Donne

John Donne, primarily known for his poetry, did not write extensive prose or full-length books. However, his works have been compiled into various collections. Some of the notable collections and publications that include his poetry include:

  1. “Songs and Sonnets” (1633): A posthumous collection of Donne’s poems, including some of his most famous works.
  2. “Elegies” (1633): This collection includes Donne’s Elegies on various subjects.
  3. “Holy Sonnets” (published posthumously): A series of nineteen devotional sonnets reflecting Donne’s spiritual exploration.
  4. “Divine Poems” (1607): A collection that includes some of Donne’s religious poetry.

BACKGROUND OF THE POEM

The Good Morrow” is an aubade-a morning love poem-written by the English poet John Donne, likely in the 15905. John Donne is a metaphysical poet and like many other metaphysical poets, they regard poetry as an intellectual endeavor, rather than it being an emotional one.

This explains the deliberate intentions of why most poems in this category use highly intellectual languages such that the deployment of extended metaphors, use of paradox, pun, irony, and ambiguity are a fashionable style to write.

The Good Morrow is one of John Donne’s first poems written while he was still a student at Lincoln’s Inn. At this time, England was undergoing various intellectual, political, social, and literary transformations. We experience Donne’s artistic ingenuity in the poem as he takes himself and his loved one out of all these epochal events and occurrences into a blissful world of tranquility where he talks about a love that is enchanting, powerful, and timeless.

SUMMARY OF THE POEM

“The Good Morrow” as a typical metaphysical discusses different ideas. First, as a love poem, it explores the joys of love that are total, true, and complete. it also incorporates other concepts such as the power of true love, the unity. the body, soul and spirit, sexuality, futility of exploration and adventure of different parts of the world.

We see in the poem, how the poet separates the lives of the lovers into two parts: before they found each other, and after.

The persona describes the first part of their lives with disdain: the pleasures they enjoyed were “childish.” Indeed, they were not even “weaned”: they were like babies. Like children, they had a limited understanding of life.

They were aware of only some of its “country” (or lowly) pleasures, going through the motions of life without knowing there could be something more.

But once they find each other, it feels as though their eyes have been opened. The poet persona realizes that any “beauty” experienced before this love was nothing more than a “dream”-a pale imitation-of the joy and pleasure he has now.

In stanza 2, the poet persona announces: “Good-morrow to our waking souls, // which watch not one another out of fear, //for love, all love of other sights controls…” this implies as though the lovers had been asleep and are just now glimpsing the light of day for the first time.

He makes waking up alongside a lover sound like a religious epiphany or a conversion experience. Unlike when he talked about “the seven sleepers Den in stanza one which represents the period when the two of them were not united together in love but now ‘waking souls’ in stanza two indicate that they are now alive, in full consciousness of love. Also, the consequences of this epiphany are implicitly religious.

Having tasted the intense pleasures of love, the lovers give up on adventure and exploration: instead, they treat their “one little room” as “an everywhere.” In this way, they become like monks or nuns: people who separate themselves from the world to dedicate themselves to their faith.

In stanza three as the poet persona focuses on the eyes of his lover which is a symbolic window to the soul.

Here the poem takes on a spiritual angle, thus its characteristics as a metaphysical poem. We experience the philosophical connotation that is hinged on the idea of romantic unity that is strong and spiritual in lines 15-16. These express the unification of the two lovers and solidify what true love entails. and at the end of the poem, the poet personal is confident that the love he and his loved one share are strong and it would never die.

THEMES

The Awakening and Enduring Power of Love

In Donne’s “The Good Morrow”, true love is one of the most expressed ideas in the poem. Its celebration of love presents an intense and unparalleled pleasure.

All the joys that the two lovers experienced before they found each other pale in comparison to thejoy they experience together. Indeed, love is so powerful that the persona describes it as an awakening of the soul. Their love is perfect and spiritual in that it transcends all worldly conceptions of the emotion to a more spiritual realm, that is its translates romantic-and erotic-love into a religious, even holy, experience. That their love is not a mere union of their bodies but a union of souls.

Further, the lovers’ devotion to each other wins them immortality: “none can die,” the poet announces in line 21 of the poem. Here Immortality is not only taken to be the reward for dedicated religious faith but also for romantic Iove.”The Good Morrow” suggests that erotic love leads to the same devotion, insight, and immortality that religion promises.

The Futility and Vanity of Life.

“The Good Morrow” was written during the Age of Discovery, the period of intense European sea exploration lasting roughly from the 15th to 17th centuries. In this light, stanza two and three of the poem tells of the “sea-discoverers,” “new worlds,” “maps,” and “hemispheres.” in which the poet persona contrast these discoveries to the pleasures of love and finds the latter to be more powerful and exciting than the formal that is futile. He thinks that the moment spends out of the pleasure of love is a waste of time and resources. This idea is engraved in lines 10-13. The poet persona finds love so
pleasurable that he proposes to withdraw from the world to dedicate himself entirely to that love. Instead of seeking adventure, the speaker proposes that the lovers “make one little room an everywhere.” For them to create their world to explore.

Majorly in the second stanza, the poet persona proposes that his lovers renounce the worldly ambitions that instead of crossing the oceans or mapping foreign countries, they should stay in bed and gaze into each other’s eyes which is a tangible experience than the other pleasures of life that is vanity.

Growth and Maturity

This is another prevalent theme in Donne’s The Good Morrow. we see this at beginning of the poem where the persona situates the lives of his loved one and himself before they started their erotic relationship. He tells about a child that is being weaned and who has sucked on county pleasures childishly. But the poet transits in the seconds and third stanza where his loved one has transmitted from the realm of innocence that childhood presents into a phase of experience that adulthood denotes.

However, the obvious movement in the poem from childhood to maturity aids in lifting the persona and his lover from ignorance to awareness of being in love with someone who loves him as well.

STRUCTURE

“The Good Marrow” is a poem of twenty-one lines. It has three stanzas of seven lines each and each stanza has the following rhyming scheme ABABCCC. This type of rhyme scheme is called the septet or the rhyme royal. it is usually iambic pentameter.

The use of caesura is another worthy of note in the structure of the poem. Caesar’s is described as a rhythmical pause in a poetic line or a sentence. the use of caesura in this poem helps to create a cohesive flow of speech that is connected through the link of punctuation which enhances the flow and rhythm of the entire poem.

LANGUAGE AND STYLE

The Use of Dramatic Monologue

The deployment of dramatic monologue in poetry is when there is a one—sided conversation delivered, even in cases where there is a listener, the individual being addressed does not usually reply to the poetic persona. in Donne’s The Good Morrow, the poet persona addresses his love, wondering aloud about their lives before they met each other and commenting on the state of their existence now that they have found each other. In all of the poet persona’s conversations, it is obvious he is addressing someone but who is not responding.

Use of Language.

The use of the words in Donne’s The Good Morrow aligns with the time setting of the poem, which is in the seventeenth century, words like ‘troth’, ‘thou’, ‘tease,’thine and twas’ are used in the poem. The use of words in the poem are highly metaphorical, for instance, ‘weaned’ means childcare, ‘seven sleepers sent means history, sea-discoveries means to travel and exploration, ‘sharp north’ means geography, etc. The use of language in the poem also draws ideas from philosophy, theology, and alchemy. This fusion of thoughts and words from different spheres of life and the ability to unite them are unique attributes of a metaphysical poem.

LANGUAGE AND STYLE

Use of Hyperbole

Hyperbole is a literary device used for emphasis in an excessive stance. Donne uses hyperbole in The Good Morrow powerfully to project the unique true love profess by the poet persona to his lover. in lines 1-2, the poet person excessively exaggerates the nature of the love he and the loved one share by wondering what they had been up to before they met. Through the use of the hyperbolic expression, we see the poet persona compare his past life with present life and concludes that the present life is more fruitful and gratifying than his life before. (line 6-7). in lines 10-11, the love that exists between
the poet persona and the loved one is foregrounded, and this is heightened with the extended metaphor given to love. Finally, in line 21, the poet persona tells his lover that their love will never die. This statement intensifies their passion to the point of spirituality and immortality.

Use of Metaphor

In Donne’s The Good Morrow”, there is extensive use of extended metaphor. As a metaphysical poem, the usual comparison of very unlikely things at a metaphorical level is of course it unique. The use of ‘weaned’ at the initial lines of the poem denotes that the poet persona compares the life of his lover and himself before they met has not been meaningful or fruitful. In line 8, the use of the expression ‘waking soul‘ is an extended metaphor that denotes the love they now share has awakened reality and the
world around them.

Furthermore, in line 14, the poet persona tells his lover, “let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one’ Here he compares the worlds to their bodies, that each of their bodies can become one if they truly are in love.

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