A Comparison of John Donne's Writing Style in "The Good Morrow" and "The Sun Rising"

Categories: John Donne

John Donne is an exceptional writer that combines unique writing techniques to create works that are unlike any other works ever written. In this paper there will be a comparison drawn between “The Good Morrow” and “The Sun Rising” to Donne’s typical writing style. This paper will be covering several key characteristics of Donne including personification of the sun and daylight in general, and will also look at his trend of opening a poem with the narrator and another person waking up in bed.

The final topic to be covered will be a combination of Donne’s metaphysical ideals of love and his ability to create an entire world from love in his poetry. In this essay Donne’s ideals of metaphysical love, personification of the sunlight, and opening trends for his poetry will be covered ultimately showing the creativity and originality of this poet.

“The Good Morrow” is, however cliché it may be, a poem about love. Donne raises the question to his lover, after a night of relations together, what were we doing before we met one another? The narrator calls himself childish and the reader can see a sliver of regret as he looks back at his past relationships.

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The poem then takes a turn into Donne’s metaphysical love and he then begins to open up a world created for and only consisting of love. This poem shockingly honest and could construed as invasive into Donne’s private affairs, but also a wonderful work that shows Donne’s original perspective of what love is like in his eyes.

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“The Sun Rising” opens with the narrator scolding the sun for trying to force him out of bed in the morning. The narrator tells us that time is not important and that everyone else should just go on about their business while he and his love lay in bed. The narrator is so in love in this poem that he loses sight of work, previous priorities, and time all together because he is so lost in this other person. Then again Donne creates his world to capture love in for he and this other person. He makes her his world and revolves everything else around her making this a perfect example of metaphysical love. This poem more ineptly shows Donne’s natural writing style and gives the reader a very accurate understanding of metaphysical love and Donne’s view of the woman he is in love with.

Although a reoccurring theme for Donne, “The Good Morrow” does not actually include any sort of personification of the sun. This will be my one contrasting point between these two works of poetry, because “The Sun Rising” has almost a half of a stanza completely devoted to discussing this point. The poem opens with the lines “Busy old fool, unruly sun, Why dost thou thus (lines 1-2). The narrator is nagging the sun for being so bright and waking him up in the morning; the narrator is also questioning why he is waking him up. “Through the curtains call on us?” Here the narrator is turning the sun into some sort of a morning wake up call. He is painting the picture of the sun coming to his window in the morning with the distinct intention of waking up the narrator and whoever is with him in bed. This personification of the sun and more broadly of day time in general is a reoccurring theme that occurs “The Sun Rising” but not in “The Good Morrow” making the personification of the sun a contrasting point in these two works.

Donne has many replicating ideas in his poetry one being the personification of the sun and another being opening the poem with two people waking up in bed together, also know as an aubade. “From medieval French to modern English, there’s a tradition of poems called aubades, about lovers who awaken at dawn..” (Burt, Stephen). In “The Good Morrow” the reader is aware that the action of them waking up takes place in line seven, “Which I desired, and got, was but a dream of the”. Donne is specifically telling the reader that he has just woken up from a dream about this person. Not so inscriptive in “The Rising Sun” Donne tells us about his struggle with the sun. He confronts the sun about waking up him and whomever he is with. He pleads with the sun to let them stay in bed longer and contests him until the very end up the poem, and Donne leads out in the end because they never actually get out of bed. Donne creates this image of him and his love in bed together to show his important ideals of have a lively private life with the person you are in love with. Donne believed that being together in this way was one of the main principles that love was built off of and could not thrive without.

To ensure Donne’s emphasis of love in his poetry this essay will now discuss his metaphysical ideals. Donne was a firm believer in metaphysical love, meaning spiritual love over physical love. In Donne’s poetry he addresses every aspect of physical love to the point of creating a world for love and nothing else. In “The Good Morrow” Donne explains an out of body experience between him and his love, “And now good morrow to our waking souls” (line 8). Here “he describes a day where the two people’s souls are together. Obviously there is a shift from physical to spiritual love, sleeping to waking period, sensuous appearances to ideal reality and as if from platonic cave to the world of light in the poet and his beloved” (literary articles). The narrator then goes on to describe how the two people have become one and the world he has created for their love. “Critics of John Donne’s “The Sun Rising” often note that the poem’s displacement of the outside world in favor of two lovers’ inner world serves to support its overall theme: the centrality of human love amidst a permanent physical universe” (Eric Otto). “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” (lines 15-18). In “The Sun Rising” Donne turns this woman into his world. “She is all states, and all princes I, Nothing else is” (lines 22-23). These two passages not only bring out the metaphysical tones of Donne’s poetry, but they show the importance Donne puts on two lovers becoming one. It also places an importance on love being separated from everything else, and love being above all else.

Donne is an extraordinary writer that had clear priorities, which he illuminates throughout all of his poetry. Although personification does not cover all of his poetry his thoughts and values do. Donne puts an importance on spiritual love over physical love. Though Donne often time has the lovers in his poems waking up in bed together he quickly moves from physical love to spiritual love showing his true intentions with his poems. He also puts an emphasis on keeping love separate from the rest of his priorities, but also keep love as his top priority. Donne shows his skill in writing in “The Sun Rising” and “The Good Morrow” through his descriptive writing about spiritual love, physical love, and personification.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Burt, Stephen. “The Sun Rising.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/177309>.

This article talks about the deep romance Donne discusses in his poems. It offers that Donne’s poems are now termed as metaphysical poems and also contain conceits, or odd comparisons. This article focuses on the reoccurring theme of waking up in bed with someone, which Donne covers several times in his poetry. This source is very helpful to me, because one of them main comparisons I saw in my two writings was the theme of opening the poem with the narrator waking up next to another person. This article also addresses the personification n that I wanted to point out in “The Sun Rising”. However, this source does state that Donne used some sort of sexist language, and it seems somewhat biased. My goal of this source is to use it to address the point I will be making about the reoccurring theme of Donne writing about waking up in bed with someone. This article discusses what it calls aubades, which is basically “a writing about lovers that wake up at dawn”. It has shaped my main point about these types of poems by showing me also that in both poems the narrator has created a world for the two people in which they do not want to be disturbed. It highlighted several lines from the text to back up this point. It also addresses the point that the narrator believes that once this world is created for these two people everything else must work around that. I will use this article to convey the similarities between “The Good Morrow” and “The Sun Rising” along the lines of the creating a separate world for love theme emphasized in Donne’s work.

  • Greenblatt, Stephen, Barbara K. Lewalski, George M. Logan, and Katharine E. Maus. “John Donne.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Comp. Carol T. Christ, Catherine Robson, Alfred David, Lawrence Lipking, Deidre A. Lynch, James Noggle, Jahan Ramazani, James Simpson, Jon Stallworth, and Jack Stillinger. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2006. N. pag. Print.

This text includes both of the written poems being used to aid my paper along with a complete biography of John Donne stating various facts about his life before and after writing. From this text I will be covering the poem “The Good Morrow”. I will be outling the following points from this text: John Donne has a reoccurring theme of starting a poem out y waking up in a bed, comparing the past life of the narrator to the current splendors of love, the creation of a separate world for love alone, and two people becoming one through love.

  • Greenblatt, Stephen, Barbara K. Lewalski, George M. Logan, and Katharine E. Maus. “John Donne.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Comp. Carol T. Christ, Catherine Robson, Alfred David, Lawrence Lipking, Deidre A. Lynch, James Noggle, Jahan Ramazani, James Simpson, Jon Stallworth, and Jack Stillinger. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2006. N. pag. Print.

This text will be used as my basis for analyzing “The Sun Rising”. From this text I will be viewing these main points: John Donne’s use of personification, the narrator talking about time in trivial terms, and Donne’s reoccurring theme of creating a world just for love.

  • “Literary Articles.” : ‘The Good Morrow’ by John Donne-a Flawless Metaphysical Poem. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://www.literary-articles.com/2010/05/good-morrow-by john-donne-flawless.html>.

This article suggests the idea of spiritual love. This is where not only two people are in love but their entire beings fit together at every point. It discusses Donne’s importance of two people being in cohesive and irrevocably compatible. This article also discusses the shift between physical love and spiritual love in Donne’s poetry. This article also addresses the narrator in “The Good Morrow” resenting his past childishness when comparing it the love he is now experiencing. This source is pushing the point that Donne is defining the aspects of both physical love and spiritual love and leaning more towards the description of spiritual love in the poem “The Good Morrow.” It again reemphasizes the one world the narrator has created. This reshapes my argument by showing the defining line between Donne focusing on spiritual and physical love and his emphasis on each. This article gave me another point to look at with the separation and importance of the separation of stanzas in Donne’s poetry. I will use this article to plot out my argument that both “The Good Morrow” and “The Sun Rising” exploit Donne’s set out importance on spiritual love.

  • Otto, Eric. “Donne, The Sun Rising.” Donne, The Sun Rising. Ampersand, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://itech.fgcu.edu/%26/issues/vol3/issue1/rhetoric.htm>.

This article states the theme of the narrator separating the two people in the bed from the outside world. It discusses Donne’s intentions of showing the reader that the world of love exists alone without the real physical world. The article gives evidence of this by saying “the “lovers’ seasons” are placed against the sun’s seasons”. The goal of this source is to question the effectiveness of Donne’s thoughts on love being a separate world. The author however seems to be critical of Donne’s work, and not at all convinced by Donne’s attempt at showing that love is held up in a world of its own. This article suggests to the reader to not read Donne’s “The Sun Rising” as a literal poem. It addresses the idea that Donne does not simply mean that they are in their own house and all alone it questions the idea that Donne has created a whole separate universe for the two people in bed together. I will use this source to convey the idea of Donne creating a separate world for love in his writing.

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A Comparison of John Donne's Writing Style in "The Good Morrow" and "The Sun Rising". (2021, Sep 16). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-comparison-of-john-donne-s-writing-style-in-the-good-morrow-and-the-sun-rising-essay

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