In this post, I will be exploring the ways in which ‘The Good Morrow’ by John Donne may be clearly defined as a metaphysical poem. Below is the video that inspired this post. I wanted to share it here as I found it particularly beautiful as an audible version of Donne’s ‘Good Morrow’.
Firstly, John Donne is one of many early 17th century poets who broke away from the tradition of Elizabethan love poetry to write metaphysical poetry. You can read about metaphysical poetry one of my past posts here.
Donne’s ‘The Good Morrow’ is defined as a metaphysical poem by the common, defining features of:
- The use of metaphysical conceits.
- Irregular rhythmic pattern.
- Colloquial language influencing a consersational tone.
- Amalgamation of thought and feeling.
- Highly emotive with an argumentative expression.
- The metaphysical conceit that I found most striking within the poem was the comparison between the two lovers and two hemispheres. The lovers also construct metaphysical conceits when they are described as being unaware lovers and breastfed babies, in addition to, unconscious lovers and the seven sleepers who slept for two hundred years.
- There seems to be a disregard for a regular rhyme scheme in ‘The Good Morrow’ as the absence of rhythmic pattern is evident throughout the poem.
- The conversational tone is conveyed by the use of colloquial language throughout the poem, e.g. ‘morrow’, ‘troth’ and ‘slacken’.
- The main theme within the poem is the vulnerability of human love in a world that is highly dominated by time and change. In the poem, there is a recognition By the speaker that love is fragile and that the two characters presented in the poem, who have not always loved each other, may experience a time when they no longer do so.
- The argumentative expression of emotional content is a defining feature of metaphysical poetry and is displayed in ‘The Good Morrow’ by the presentation of love in an argumentative manner. The repetition of connectives is shown by ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘if’ and ‘or’, ‘and’ demonstrating the speaker’s personal conflict of thought within the poem.
To conclude, all of these features mentioned above, in addition to the sudden beginning and abstract theme of love, certainly define ‘The Good Morrow, as a metaphysical poem. The poem is shown below:
‘The Good Morrow’ by John Donne
I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not wean’d till then?
But suck’d 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 mix’d equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed the poem as much as I did!
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks,