Read this article to know about the summary and analysis of The Good Morrow by John Donne
Also read: Features of Metaphysical Poetry
Also read: Metaphysical Poets
Summary of The Good Morrow by John Donne
The poem Good Morrow is an aubade or a morning poem or a song. The poet and his beloved have just woken up and they find that something has happened last night that has changed the balance of their relationship.
As the poem begins, the poet starts asking rhetorical questions. When he wakes up from the bed, the first thing in his mind is a rhetorical question:
What on earth they were doing before they came together. The poet uses colloquialism like ‘by my Troth’ to stress on his question.
He raises the second rhetorical question by using the word ‘weaned’ as metaphor that refers to the development of a baby from feeding on breast milk to cow milk.
But here it is used to show that they were just children, unsophisticated, childish before this particular night.
Now poet raises the third rhetorical question by asking were they childishly sucked on country pleasures. ‘Sucked’ again refers to breastfeeding that signifies immaturity.
Poet says that prior to this night they were sexually active, animistic, and childish and thus were away from the spiritual love.
The poet now raises the fourth rhetoric question by comparing their life prior to the present with the seven sleepers who miraculously slept for 187 years in a den.
The poet uses animal imagery, because snorting relates to the voice of pig and den is a place where animals sleep.
It is as if Donne says, ‘Prior to the moment we were childish animals but something has happened that has changed their life after that night.
After asking four rhetorical questions, he answers himself that it is the truth.
But for the poet all the pleasures of the past life were imaginations. Fancies here mean the insignificant things. The poet now says that if any beautiful thing he has ever seen is the reflection of his beloved.
Here the poet brings the Plato’s allegory of the cave. But it should be noted that he confesses that he had sexual relations with other women in the past in which he saw the perfect face of his beloved.
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In the second stanza, the poet says “Good Morning” to their souls that have woken up from the long sleep of immaturity. He says that now they do not see each other with fear, meaning that prior to this night they did not have much trust and feared from each other .
The Fear can also be considered to be the “fear of imperfection.”
As now they have much trust on each other, their love is now controlling all the sights. It means what they see in their surroundings is seen with the eyes of love now. Such vision of the eyes has made their room a complete world.
The poet now brings the discoveries of his time into the text like other metaphysical poets. (Dr. Johnson was highly critical of this technique.).
He says that the sea-discoverers (like Columbus) have gone to discover new lands and some other are framing the maps of the world and suggests that they should do all this, because for them such discoveries hold value.
But for the poet, his world is the room where he is with his beloved.
The poet says that both of them should consider possessing one world each (half) which would then become one, all in all.
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The poet says to his beloved that he sees his face in her eyes and she sees her face in his eyes. And their innocent and true hearts find relief in each other.
The poet raises a rhetorical question asking where they can find two half spheres then them (as they are two hemispheres of a complete world). He says that there is neither cold north-pole nor bad seasons in their world.
He then refers to the Theory of Four Fluids (read more about it). He says that death occurs due to the imbalance of the humours.
But if both of them love each other equally, there would be no imbalance in their relationship and thus neither their love will weaken nor it will die, but instead will become eternal.
Here it should be noted that the poet uses the term “if”. Thus he is not fully sure whether his beloved also loves him as much as he does or not and compels her to respond to his love.