The Sun Rising Poem Line by Line Explanation

Text & Line by Lline Annotations of Donne's "The Sunne Rising"


The Sun Rising Poem Line by Line Explanation

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Hey! You interfering stupid old busybody, you, Sun, who obey no regular rules — why are visiting us and waking us up like this, intruding on our privacy by coming in through the [room’s] windows and the [bed’s] curtains? Do you think you can ever regulate my love? No, no, no, it will certainly not happen, you understand insolent sun. The contention is that the lover is not willing to obey the rules of time, set down by the sun.
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys, and sour prentices
Go tell court-huntsmen that the King will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices
Do you think that we lovers are obliged to adjust the growth and decay of our love, its [sexual] rise and fall, to your movements [the way the physical world does]?  “Did you really expect my lady and I to get up just because you shined in here? You’ve got to be joking.” Come on, be honest.
You impudent low fellow, go rebuke late-going school-boys, ill-tempered and ill-humored apprentices; or else go and tell the men whose task it is to accompany the king on his morning hunts; or else summon to their harvesting duties the poor ant-like drudges (farmers) who live and work in the countryside.
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Love is immune from your interference, since it is unvarying and experiences neither climatic nor seasonal changes, neither waxing nor waning, growing never hotter, never colder: thus it has nothing to do with such contemptible trivia as hours, days, or months. Days and months change as time rolls on. But so far as love is concerned, it is beyond its cruel clutch and touch.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
What on earth makes you think your rays deserve any respect from us, or are all that powerful? Hey, I warn you okay, I can extinguish you at a wink. But I don’t want to do that, as I don’t like to lose the sight of my beloved even for a few second. That question is like a hypothetical proposition that needs a proof. And like any good attorney, Donne is ready to prove his case. Why do I dare to insult the sun? Well, says line 13, because if I just close my eyes then all those sunbeams disappear.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late tell me,
Whether both the Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Let’s give the guy some credit, though. He’s saying that just as the sun is so bright and radiant that one look can blind you, even the sun can be blinded by the brightness and beauty of his lover’s eyes. The lover exaggerated here that the spark of his ladylove may well dazzle and blind even the mighty sun. The lover claims that if the sun were to go look around the world, it would find that the entire world now resided inside this one bedroom. This is the part when we shake our heads like Scooby-Doo.
To the lover, the ladylove is all lovely and precious and even similar to the aromatic and yummy spices of India or valuable gold mines of West Indies.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay. 
When you inquire for the monarchs you saw in your round-the-world course yesterday, you’ll be told that they are all now lying here, in this bed you’re looking at, embodied in me!
So Donne ends the stanza having made one strange claim—that he is even stronger than the sun—and backed it up with a logical argument. But he makes an even stranger claim to close the stanza—the whole world is now located in my bed.
She’s all states, and all princes I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy
Yes, she is the whole world to me, all its kingdoms rolled into one, and I myself am every king. If my ladylove is the whole world of love, I would be its lone and absolute ruler. Nothing else even exists, not really. I don’t care anything else except our supreme love.
Princes are big fakers, pretending they are as mighty as the narrator. All honor is only simple mimicry. All wealth is alchemy (false). Donne declares complacently, however wealthy a person may be, his or her life looks all empty and showy without this. In fact, nothing enables a person to be as happy and proud as for his or her love.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Indeed you, my dear sun, can feel happy too — not, of course, as happy as we, but half as much, say. It’s because the whole world has been contracted into our bedroom.
Donne then becomes a used car salesman: “Look Mr. Sun, you’re tired, you’re busy, you don’t want to run around all day trying to warm up the world. So I’m going to make you a deal—this one time only. You warm up the Mrs. and me right here in this bed and it’ll warm up the whole rest of the world for you.” By warming Donne, you’re all done!” Ha Ha.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere
So go ahead, shine in on us, and in doing so you’re shining everywhere. This bed is the centre of the cosmos around which you rotate, and the walls of this room are the invisible sphere which holds you in the heavens.

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