John Donne’s The Good-Morrow and Sylvia Plath’s Morning Song at first glance, seem to talk about two different things. However, if one were to analyze the depth of these two poems, it will eventually reveal its shared views about love and its distinct relation to morning. Both poems reveal an overwhelming feeling of love that is influenced by another individual. For Donne, it was his love interest while for Plath, it was one of her children. The two poems equally used colorful imagery of love in its early stages, although taken into different contexts.
Donne’s first few lines in The Good-Morrow had described his romantic feelings toward his lover by throwing questions of his worthiness in love. In lines 2 to 4, he compares his past life to that of an infant being weaned from the bottle or breast, in order to satisfy his childish whims. This could also denote a lustful past in which he had looked for instant gratification as that of a child, only to find that the right love could only be understood with a mature outlook in life (3).
With regard to Plath’s Morning Song, lines 13 to 15 paint a different picture of a child in the context of love as she sees the act of breastfeeding as a sign of her contentment in being a mother. Lines 1 t o3 expresses her joy in the birth of her child as she simply describes the invincible link of a mother to her child. In particular, line 3 indicates the wonderment of life through love when Plath states “Took its place among the elements” (48) when she describes the birth of her child.
Line 4 conveys her happiness at the arrival of her child, associating the infant to a statue in a museum, and she, a mere astonished observer. This is in contrast with Donne’s view in his poem when he wrote in line 19 “Whatever dies was not mixed equally” (3). What Donne referred to in this line is an old belief that described the cause of death as an imbalance in the body. This line signifies Donne’s hope that the love that he and his lover shared would make them equally whole.
Both lines described the powerful connection that they have with their loved ones, yet it was illustrated in opposing contexts as life and death. Another noteworthy similarity of the two poems lies in their views of being united with their loved one. Lines 7 to 9 of Plath’s poem basically illustrate the oneness that she feels toward her baby when she speaks of not seeing her own reflection in the presence of her child. In Donne’s poem, line 15 corresponds to a combined notion of oneself with his loved one, as he states “My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears” (3).
In the context of morning, both poems take on a seemingly parallel course to describe the joy one feels in expressing love. Lines 8 to 14 of Donne’s poem vibrantly illustrates the connection he feels toward his loved one when he likens the meeting to a greeting of souls as they both start afresh, just as the dawn of a new day signals another day to live. Donne also describes this fortunate meeting as an acknowledgment of his loved one’s significance in his world as he points out that his existence merely coincides with the presence of his lover (3).
As for Plath, the perspective of morning is wholly dedicated to her joy in being a mother as she creatively narrates her experiences in nursing her child. Lines 10 to 15 principally describe how she looks forward to waking up every morning as she awakens to the sound of her child’s cry due to hunger (48). Line 18 of Plath’s poem fully conceives the notion as to why she looks forward to anew day. Her morning song is the cry of her baby in the morning, describing it as “The clear vowels rise like balloons” (48).
Based on the analysis of Donne’s poem, one could deduce that the references made to a child in describing infantile love is seen as a transitory phase from an unconstructive feeling to pure admiration and content. Donne shows the maturation of love as though it was a living and breathing creature. In Plath’s vision, love was embodied concretely in the bond between parent and child, specifically between a mother and her child. Plath depicts a sort of love that is basic and nurturing; one that does not expect reciprocity or uncertainty, but a depth of feeling that could only be felt through the birth of life.
Both of these poems have described two types of love that we may experience in our lifetime and their poetic revelations indicate that life is riddled with moments that are full of love.
Donne, John. “The Good-Morrow. ” Poems of John Donne. Ed. E. K. Chambers. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 3. Plath, Sylvia. “Morning Song. ” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Booth, Alison, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1961. 48.
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Topic: Love and Morning: From the Perspective of John Donne and Sylvia Plath
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