The Good Morrow Analysis
Of the metaphysical poets, John Donne is most singular and typical. The Good Morrow is his characteristic metaphysical poem. It shows Donne in his metaphysical triumph, both in his theme and in his technique. The subject-matter of his poem is love. The treatment of love in the poem is characteristic of metaphysical love poetry. The poem remains typical of metaphysical and Donne’s poetry.
The theme of the poem is, however, quite simple. The poet addresses his ladylove and reminds her fancifully of the way of their living before their actual meeting. He strongly feels that their love remained strong and deep even before their meeting and that his mind was then haunted with the vision of his future ladylove. Of course, the poet feels assured that the profundity of their love has raised them above all narrow moods of suspicion and uncertainty and united them perpetually in the bond of love. It is their love that has brought them together, and they do not care of anything else.
In conclusion, the poet asserts that their love is so intense, so devoted, that nothing can slacken or spoil it. He also guesses that their love may survive even after their death. Whereas other people are eager for other elements, the poet and his ladylove are lost in their love and do not seek for anything else but love. They are absorbed in their love, and love only.
The entire theme of the poem is love-a strong and true passion of love. The poet well emphasizes the depth and the devotion of love, and illustrates, by means of apt images, how it stands stationary and remains perpetual in a changing, mortal world. The emphasis here is laid on the perpetuity of devoted love.
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As a characteristic metaphysical poem, The Good Morrow reveals, even within its brief span, Donne’s excellence as the leader of metaphysical poetry. One of the remarkable features in metaphysical poetry is precision. This implies the concentration of some profound thought within a very brief compass. The subject matter of the present poem deals with a quite comprehensive theme-the elemental passion of love-, but the poet does not go here for any sort of elaborate reflection on the devotion or steadiness of love or any argument for the power of love. He brings out the essence of the love-theme of the poem in a highly concise manner. The genuine and profound devotion of the lover, his yearning and passion for his lady, are all precisely brought out in a very concise expression-
“If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir’d, and got ’twas but a dream of thee.”
The vastness of the concept of love is a part of metaphysical thought. The metaphysical mind does not elaborate the matter of love. It turns round the depth of feeling and understanding. Donne’s rich contention is that love controls all things, and is everywhere. This is a specifically metaphysical concept that celebrates love as all-pervasive and all-powerful. Donne’s statement is concise but concentrative-
“For love, all love of other sights controules,
And makes one little roome, an everywhere.”
The presence of conceits is another feature of metaphysical poetry Donne’s conceits are extremely striking. His reflections on the profundity of love and the absolute unification of lovers are very happily indicated through the conceits which are brief yet thought provoking. This is particularly marked in the concluding portion of the poem where the lovers are compared to two hemispheres ‘without sharp North without declining West”. The concluding lines of the poem particularly convey the conceit in which the poet finds their love so much unified that ‘none do slacken, none can die.
Metaphysical poetry is essentially intellectual. The predominance of intellectualism characterizes Donne’s poetry, religious as well as secular. His love poems exhibit more of intellect, less of emotion. Wit and wisdom go along with the feeling of devotion in his love poetry. The element of wit gives a sort of singularity to Donne’s love poems. In The Good Morrow, for instance, his witticism and wisdom are finely conceived in his enquiry about the way of the lovers before their meeting. The whole approach is vigorously intellectual, and this characterizes its singularity as a metaphysical poem.
The intellectual element, so dominant in Donne’s poetry, has given it peculiarity in imagery as well as expression. The poet does not employ conventional images and phrases, but goes rather to geographical and scientific terms. In The Good Morrow, the poet’s imagery to describe the singleness of the devotion of love is quite novel. He introduces the sea-discoverers’ and ‘the maps and indicates how love has ‘one’ complete world.
Donne’s diction, as revealed in The Good Morrow, is simple and straightforward. His metrical swing is not emotionally vibrant, but rather intellectually mobile. His diction and rhythm are found quite in keeping with the originality of his presentation and imagery, and this is surely a conspicuous quality of metaphysical lyric poetry. This intellectual beat of Donne’s rhythm is heard in the very opening lines of the poem :
“I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we lov’d? were we not wean’d till then?
But suck’d on countrey pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we i’ the seaven sleepers’ den?”
Thoughts and rhythms are singularly conceived and aptly synthesized,
The Good Morrow is one of Donne’s celebrated poems that illustrate the genesis of his metaphysical style. In the profundity of theme, the precision of presentation and the novelty of technique, it remains his outstanding and popular work, like such poems as The Flea, The Anniversarie, The Sunne Rising, The Canonization, and so on.