John Donne The Good Morrow Summary Analysis Questions Answers

The Good Morrow Summary Analysis Questions Answers 


The Good Morrow Summary Theme Analysis Questions Answers Metaphysical Poem




The Good Morrow 
John Donne 

I wonder, By my troth, what thou and I 
Did, till we love? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked oon country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den?
'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which i desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere. 
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres, 
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I 
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

The Good Morrow as a Metaphysical Poem


The term "Metaphysical Poetry" was first applied by Dr. Johnson in his essay on Abraham Cowley about about the poetry of John Donne and his followers.

As the Latin prefix "Meta" means beyond, the term Metaphysical refers to going beyond physical or superficial. Actually in Metaphysical poetry, the poets go beyond the superficial discussion of a subject which was the characteristic of the Petrarchan tradition of Elizabethan love poetry.

The six Metaphysical poets are - John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Troherne and Andrew Marvell.

In John Donne's The Good Morrow, there is an intellectual approach to the subject of love with a logical structure and metaphysical wit. It consists of a syllogistic structure - three stanzas showing by gradual stages, the development of love and its consequence. Its conceits are drawn from various sources - geography, mythology, philosophy and through them Donne establishes the superiority of the world of spiritual love with a manly, vigorous style that strengthens its claim as a metaphysical poem.

The Good Morrow as a love poem


John Donne's The Good Morrow is a love poem in the sense that it deals with the conventional theme of lyric, that is love, but the approach to the subject of love is intellectual and logical, which is characteristically metaphysical and less impulsive than that in the Elizabethan love-lyrics. Unlike in the Elizabethan poems, in The Good Morrow, love is expressed rationally with unconventional analogies and refined out.

Theme of the poem The Good Morrow 


John Donne's The Good Morrow is characteristically a metaphysical poem which deals with the theme of love - a strong and true passion of love. The poet in the person of a lover bids good morning the beloved whom he has met after their long slumber of ignorance of their love. Their love is not simply devoted, but also self-complacent and care for nothing else. Infact, oneness in love triumphs over all earthly mutability and mortality and shines ever in mutual attachment. 

Title of the poem The Good Morrow 


"Good Morrow" or "Good Morning" is a term of greeting uttered when the people meet for the first time in the day. But here the title "The Good Morrow" has a deeper significance as it refers to the awakening of the souls of the lovers after a long slumber and they meet and fall in love with each other.

Summary of the poem The Good Morrow 


The poet-lover addresses his lady-love and expresses his curiosity to know how he and his beloved had passed their time before their meeting. He fancies the ways in which they might have spent their time before they could meet and love. They might have suffered from love-sickness and have grown pale.

They might have enjoyed the countryside pleasures thoughtlessly or slept away their time like the legendary seven sleepers who remained asleep for three centuries in a cave to escape the wrath of the Persian Monarch, Decius. After making such speculations, he assures his beloved of one thing that even during those days when he had not met her, it was her beauty only which remained in his desires and dreams. And now, the spirits of the lover and his lady-love are fully awakened to the passion of love. 

The awakened souls of the two lovers greet each other of their first meeting after a long slumber. Their newly awakened maturity gives them enough confidence to look at each other boldly and feel completely secure in each other's trust. They are ruled by their mutual love to such an extent as to surpass and subjugate their individual love for different elements. Their intense, truthful love has made their single room as vast to them as the universe. The outer world might have been enlarged by new voyages and discoveries that add new continents to the maps of the world but the two individual worlds of these two lovers have now become fused into one and thus what was limited has been made into infinity by their love. Love has unified the lovers and merger of their individuality is inevitable. Their faces are mutually reflected on their eyes and their hearts are like the two hemispheres of the world, indissolubly linked together without any distortion or diviation. 

The poet opines that only those elements which are not fully fused are subjected to degeneration and are perishable. But love has unified the poet and his lady-love so strongly and deeply that they have achieved perpetuation even in this mortal world.

Critical Analysis of the poem The Good Morrow 


"The Good Morrow" is a characteristic love-poem by John Donne and it reveals his genius as a metaphysical poet. The theme of the poem is love - its depth and devotion. It celebrates the happy contended love that has unity in diversity. The fond of love is sound enough to draw two lovers each other and make them one. Their love is not simply devoted but also self complacent and cares for nothing else. 

True lovers are never fainted by fear and suspicion and they are proud of their greatness wealth which is love for each other. Infact, oneness in love triumphs over all earthly mutability and mortality and shines even in mutual attachment. The concluding lines bring out the central though precisely in the typical metaphysical manner.

"If our two loves be one, or, thou and I 
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die."

From the above analysis of the poem, we see that Donne's "The Good Morrow" is an eloquent exposition of his metaphysical idea of love.

Metaphysical poems are characterised by intellectual quality, wit, conceit, striking imagery and precision in expression. 

John Donne, the greatest of the metaphysical poets of his group has expressed all the above metaphysical traits in his fine metaphysical poem, "The Good Morrow".

First of all, the poem is lyrical but its lyricism is different from the Elizabethan lyricism which is often exuberant, unrestrained and carried away by fervent passion and lofty imagination and sharpened sensibility.  In the poem, the genuine and profound devotion of the lover, his yearning and passion for his lady, all are precisely brought out with classic brevity:

"If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir'd and got, 'twas but a dream of thee"

In the poem, "The Good Morrow", the poet John Donne establishes genuine love between two souls are all pervasive and all powerful. The true lovers by virtues of their sincere love find their little room of happiness as wide as the world and with fine metaphysical plot, the poet utters:

"For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere".

The metaphysical poet, John Donne uses striking imageries to express his deep thoughts. The imageries of the 'sea-discoveries' and the geographers drawing the maps of the world to add new countries, mentioned in the poem deserve special attention. The lover says that let the sea-discoverers discover new seas and map drawers add new countries to their maps but he and his beloved girl possess one world, the world of their happy-love with subtle wit, conceit and intellect. Donne says:

"Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one."

A true lover sees his own face in his beloved's eyes and the beloved sees her own face in her lover's eyes and John Donne says:

"My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears."

Therefore, considering Joun Donne's use of restrained lyricism, striking imageries, wit, conceit, intellect and classical presentation in the expression of true love, we may call "The Good Morrow" is an excellent, triumphant, metaphysical love poem.

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Questions Answers Explanation from the poem The Good Morrow 

1. Explanation of the expression, "makes one little room, an everywhere."

Ans: In John Donne's metaphysical poem, "The Good Morrow", the awakened souls of the two lovers greet each other at their first meeting. Their spirits are fully awakened to the passion of love. They are ruled by their mutual love to such an extent as to surpass and subjugate their individual love for different elements. Their intense love enlarges and expands their vision and transforms the little room of the lovers into a vast universe. The reference to 'one little room' is a metaphysical conceit.

2. What according to the poet lover, had he and his beloved done before they had loved each other?

Ans: In John Donne's metaphysical poem,"The Good Morrow", the poet lover conceives two possibilities of the activity of himself and his beloved before they fall in love with each other. He conjectures that they might be engaged in sucking the coutry pleasure childishly from the breast of their mother Earth. They might also be engaged sleeping like the legendary seven noble Christian youths of Ephesus, who slept for two hundred years in a cave and awoke to find Christianity established in the Roman Empire. 

3. What is the allusion of "seven sleepers den"?

Ans: According to the legend of the seven sleepers found in Giffon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", the seven sleepers were seven devout Christian youths of Ephesus who at about 250 A.D had to take shelter in a cave to escape from the wrath of the Persian monarch, Decius and remained asleep there for three centuries. In "The Good Morrow", the poet-lover compares the atmosphere of sleep, stupper and dream with the fleeting and unstable nature of immature love of himself and his beloved. The poet proceeds from the night-scene and the experience of sleeping love to the morning of pure love which gives him a new life and makes him discover a world in their little room. The reference to the legend of the seven sleepers is a metaphysical conceit.

4. Explanation of the phrase "Watch not one another out of fear"

Ans: The quoted expression taken from John Donne's metaphysical poem "The Good Morrow" is told about the poet-lover and his beloved whose spirits are awakened to the passion of love. They are now fully active in love with their passion and devotion remaining intense. Their newly awakened maturity gives them enough confidence to look at each other boldly and to feel completely secure in each other's trust. Now their love lives above all fear or suspicion. 

5. Explanation of the phrase "One world each hath one, and is one".

Ans: The quoted line taken from John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow" echoes Donne's concept of unity in diversity in love. The outer world might have been enlarged by new voyages and discoveries that add new continents to the maps of the world, but the two individual worlds of the two lovers have now become fused into one and thus what was limited has been made into infinity by their love. This is a metaphysical conceit. 

6. Explanation of the phrase "two better hemispheres".

Ans: The quoted expression taken from John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow", speaks of the poet-lover who speaks of the ennoblingand transfiguring effect of love upon him and his beloved. The hearts of the poet-lover and his beloved are like the two hemispheres of the world, indissolubly linked together. These hemispheres are ever warm, sunny and cheerful and hence they are better than the hemispheres of the globe where there are the North pole - the region of ice and cold and the West, which is gloomy and declining due to sunset.

7. Explanation of the phrase "Whatever dies was not mixed equally".

Ans: The quoted expression taken from John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow", reeks of the "scholastic theories of the nature of pure substance", according to which homogeneity in a composition of a substance prevents its distortion and degeneration. Here, the poet-lover means to say that unlike the heterogeneously mixed substance, the poet-lover's and his beloved's equal love to each other will create a homogeneous mixture of love, which is pure, eternal and indestructible. 

8. Explain the ideal of metaphysicals through the poem The Good Morrow. 

Ans: The poem "The Good Morrow" establishes its metaphysical quality in the unified experience of love shared and consummated by both the lovers in an exchange of love relationship. The discovery of love makes everything futile because it establishes a unity between the lovers beyond the physical. The poem is purely metaphysical in the attainment of the identification of the lovers through the means of body and soul.

9."If ever any beauty I did see, / Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee." - Why was it dream of thee?

Ans: It was a 'dream of thee' ad the poet is guided by the pretence of love which had so far not establish metaphysical unity of the lover and had made the discovery of love real.

10. Explanation of the lines: "For love, all love of other sights controls, / And makes one little room an everywhere."

Ans: The deep feeling of love shared by the lovers highlights a tremendous sense of involvement where the very concept of participating in the experience of love makes a little room signify the world itself characterised by the love experience. 

11. Explanation of the lines: "Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone / Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, / Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one."

Ans: The poet says that geographically discoverers have to travel long distances to discover places when maps are required to find places. The lover on the other hand a self-content to posses the whole world in terms of interactive relationship within each other. Thus this signifies the homogenous world where further discovery is not required. 

12. Explanation of the lines: "Where can we find two better hemispheres, / Without sharp north, without declining west?"

Ans: The poet John Donne says this to show the apparent contrast between the earthly hemispheres and the perfect hemispheres of love. When the poet-lover and his beloved are unified as body and soul, they make a perfect hemisphere without any contradiction. These hemispheres are ever warm, sunny and cheerful and hence they are better than the hemispheres of the globe where there are the North pole, the region of ice and cold and the West, which is gloomy and declining due to sunset. 

13. What is metaphysical conceit?

Ans: The term 'metaphysical conceit' is a literary device found in poetry, used to establish a parallel between two utterly dissimilar things or conceptions. Therefore, a conceit is an incongruous comparison between two dissimilar things or conceptions which are "yoked by violence". In a metaphysical poem, there is "combination of passion and cerebration, seriousness". The metaphysical poets exploited all knowledge - common place, theological or philosophical. 


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