Donne's The Sunne Rising as a Love Poem ~ All About English Literature

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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Donne's The Sunne Rising as a Love Poem

Donne's The Sunne Rising as a Love Poem

“The Sun Rising” is a typical love poem by Donne, characterised by his usual vigour, sprightliness and freshness. This poem, like most of Donne’s love-poems is inspired by the poet’s love for his wife, Anne Moore. Donne’s love amounts to a passion. It is a perfect synthesis of the spiritual and physical love. The supremacy of love which transcends both time and space, for it knows ‘no season and no climes’ is established with a daring jugglery of words.

In the opening stanza, the sun is addressed as “busy, old fool” flashing his light into the lover’s bedroom, perhaps with the intention of waking up and parting them. In a tone of dramatic monologue, the poet lover reprimands the Sun and calls it names for disturbing love making. Instead he may go about his trivial errands like pulling up ‘late school boys’ and lazy apprentices who hate to work.  The country ants and courtiers may knuckle under his authority but not so the lovers.  Love is above time, which is regulated by the sun.  For lovers, seasons, hours and days have no meaning.

The Sun is the supreme power-house of the world. Yet it should not brag over it. The poet lover could eclipse and could the beams of the Sun with a wink. He does not do so because he does not wish to “loose her right so long.” . In hyperbolic language he asks the sun if the eyes of his beloved are not brighter than sunlight.  Gazing into her eyes, the sun may feel dazzled.  All the assets of mines of the West Indies and spices of the East Indies are more valuable than his lady love in the bed.

The lovers in Donne’s poem are the archetypal ideas or the soul of the world:
“She’s all slates, and all princes I;”
Together they constitute the soul of the world. The pomp and majesty of a king is then a mere imitation of the glory attained by lovers.  Compared to their spiritual wealth, all material wealth seems counterfeit. The poet-lover offers it the needed ease. The Sun’s duty is warming the world. It warms only half of the world at a time. By shining on the lover’s bed it can shine over the whole world at a time.

“The Sun Rising” is one of the most successful love poems of Donne. As a poet of love he can be an extreme realist and deals with the physical side of it as also its spiritual side. Here he treats of a situation very significant for wedded lovers, but unusual in the poetry of love—two lovers in bed who refuse to get up when the sun shines on them in the morning.
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