The Good Morrow
John Donne is considered to be a master of metaphysical conceit. What is metaphysical conceit? It is an extended metaphor that compares two very different ideas with the help of imagery. Likening lovers to saints which he uses in the poem The Canonization is a classic example of metaphysical conceit. While Petrarchan conceits compares two objects that are related, metaphysical conceits compare objects that are completely unrelated. Donne’s poems are also popular for its puns and paradoxes.
John Donne who lived in the late 16th century and early 17th century wrote many love poems during his early life and many religious poems later on life. None of his poems were published while he was alive but his manuscripts were very popular then. The poem The Good Morrow is also a love poem.
In Donne’s poems there are no soft entries into the subject; he goes into it bang on. He wonders what he and his lover did till they found true love. He asks if they were not weaned from the childish play of love, meaning sex. They ‘sucked’ or drank up the childish pleasures which meant that they were involved into more of physical play rather than being in love. He questions again if they were almost dead as the children in Seven Sleepers den? These were children who were walled alive by the Roman emperor in the 3rd century and these children went off to sleep and were found to be alive after 187 years when a builder removed the wall.
This allusion can mean that their relationship before this point might be childish or boring or even something that is hidden or afraid. He is sure that his lover was the kind of beauty he had dreamed and desired.
From all the earthy feelings his soul has risen to a ‘good morrow’ which was without the fear of another. He continues that this love consumes one totally and has eyes only for the beloved and for nothing else. Wherever he looks he can only see his love; so he rightly says that ‘makes one little room an everywhere’. Now that the whole world was in that one room, he says let the explorers reach new lands, let cartographers make the maps, these lovers are not interested in anything. The lovers have their own world to explore and they were enjoying this new-found dimension to their love.
Sitting face to face with the lover, he sees his face in her eyes and she sees her face in his eyes. They are blissful and rest in each other’s eyes. They are like the two hemispheres; not hemispheres where seasons change and cold winds blow. They have united to become one and it is spring season there. He concludes that if she loved him as he did, then their love was so healthy that it would never die.
The poet wakes to a morrow which was very different from what was seen hitherto. Donne seems to have called this poem a sonnet when it is not really that, only the theme of the poem is about love and his woman, like the sonnets. It has 21 lines in three stanzas. The rhyme scheme is ABABCC in iambic pentameter. There are alliterations in the poem.
Were we not weaned till then?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
In lines 12 to 15 the poet has used anaphor; the word being ‘let’. The title of the poem is ’good morrow’ and is apt as it is indeed an indication of the good future. His future was going to be good because he has realised the futility of the days spent in physical play believing it to be love. Now he has found true love, his soul was to rise in love- so where is the doubt that it was a ‘good morrow’?