The good morrow
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The good morrow. By John Donne (1572-1631). The Good-Morrow – by John Donne I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

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The good morrow

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The good morrow

The good morrow

By John Donne (1572-1631)


The good morrow

The Good-Morrow – by John Donne

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

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.


Background

Background

  • Educated at universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

  • Roman Catholic during early part of his life, but became an Anglican in 1615 and was appointed dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1621 to his death in 1631.

  • The poem is from John Donne’s 1633 collection “Songs and Sonnets”.

  • Regarded by many critics as the greatest poet of the metaphysical school.

  • Metaphysics – used language in new ways to express emotion and meaning at the same time. Poems deal with the relationship of humankind, God and the universe.


Speaker and emotions

Speaker and emotions

  • Viewpoint of a lover as he arises in the morning and sees the face of his lover next to him.

  • Subject of this passion could be Anne More, who became Donne’s wife.

  • Different phases love goes through

    - passion of early relationship

    - to its growth to a spiritual experience and intimate bond.


Themes

Themes

  • Re-awakening

  • Nature/completeness of lovers’ world


Structure and diction

Structure and diction

  • Dramatic, lyrical, metaphysical poem.

  • 3 stanzas each with 7 lines.

  • Rhyme scheme =

    a

    b

    a

    b

    c

    c

    c


The good morrow

  • Syntax is complex and refined – periodic and balanced constructions.

  • Mostly end-stopped lines – enhances orderliness of lines and crisp diction (words)

  • Vivid language and religious references


Title

Title

  • Good Morrow = good morning (to our waking souls)


Line 1 2

Line 1 - 2

Rhetorical Q of l. 1-4- develops theme throughout

Direct question to himself and subject, ponders way of life before falling in love

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

truth

Infant’s gradual change from milk to solid food.


Line 3 4

Line 3-4

Euphemism

simple, rustic and childish pleasures (like sucking mother’s milk

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

Slept/snored

Allusion

Catholic tale – “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” = 7 Christian children who hid in a cave to escape persecution during the reign of Roman Emperor Decius. They fell asleep and awoke 200 years later during the reign of Theodosius II.

THUS, their slumber is compared to the long sleep of Seven Sleepers AND their bravery to how love has changed the speaker.


Line 5 7

Line 5-7

Q is answered

’Twasso; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

Being in love distorts one’s sense of reality – what went before was unreal.

Any woman who had taken his fancy in the past “but a dream of thee” – a shadow


Line 8 9

Line 8-9

Love having given rise to a “Seven Sleepers” miracle

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

Apostrophe

Personification


Line 10 11

Line 10-11

Love can outweigh all other emotions/feelings and be as enduring as lovers want it to be.

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Hyperbole

What seems small at the outset can contain a universe once opened.

Personification

Only they exist in the room where they lay and their room is the only realm which exist in the universe.


Line 12 14

Line 12-14

Conceit (far-fetched comparison between two unlike things) – two lovers to the discovery of new worlds

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.

Intimate, spiritual bond

Love is so great he feels he has no need to explore other worlds – others can explore for he has found what he was looking for.

Passion often felt at the beginning of a love story – nothing else seems to matter.


Line 15 16

Line 15-16

When the speaker looks at/into his lover’s face, it’s like looking into a mirror – they have become so close that it seems they are the same.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Personification

Pure


Line 17 18

Line 17-18

Metaphor

Eyes – as wide-ranging and wonderful as the hemispheres of Earth.

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp North, without declining West?

Rhetorical Q

and

Personification

Superior to geographical ones, lack coldness (sharp North) and sunset (declining west

North symbolisesbitterness and discord.

West symbolisesdying.

Hyperbole

The lovers’ world does not contain these “directions”.


Line 19 21

Line 19-21

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.

Again portrays how their love has grown to the point of being like one person.

Fade/lessen

Love is enduring and will continue growing – Conquers all.


Answers

Answers

  • He felt as though he had been asleep. He felt as though he was just a little baby not yet weaned. He felt as though he had not yet matured enough to really enjoy anything. He felt as though every enjoyment was purely imagined.

  • Metaphor/personification

    Metaphor – effectively conveys the idea that the couple experiences life as if they are awake for the first time. Their love is like a new day.


The good morrow

Personification – the souls themselves are personified as beings awakening and being greeted with a morning greeting.

  • They might not trust fully. They might feel that at any time, the other might leave or let the other down.

  • He wonders what either did before they met, as everything seems insignificant and immature in comparison.


The good morrow

  • True, “love controls” the desire for “other sights”, surpassing them.

  • The words “possess one world” suggest the way in which lovers share everything, their world, their space; “hath one” suggests possession, the lovers own the world, their world; and “is one” suggests that the lovers complete each other, each one being is one half of the whole.


The good morrow

  • The explorers of old would have sailed to parts of the world not visited before. They would map the territory and make the world known. The lovers are worlds to each other and they are explorers. In time, they will explore and know each part of their partner.

    a) Metaphor

    b) Two halves of the earth are compared to the two lovers, effectively conveying the idea that the one is completed by the other. There is an idea of quality as both halves are perfectly equal to the other.


The good morrow

c) Rhetorical question.

  • It might be that the poet is unsure of his lover and is trying to persuade her, in which case the tone might be plaintive OR the poet might be feeling triumphant in his love, because he is sure of her love.


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