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John Donne: Poem analysis » The Good-morrow » Commentary on The Good-morrow

The Good-morrow is one of Donne's happy love songs, celebrating the joys of a completely unified love. We can compare it, therefore, with The Sunne Rising and The Extasie. If the lovers are so unchanging in their love, they will achieve immortality, since only what changes, dies. The poem is driven by a central image: that the two lovers make up a complete world. Nothing really exists outside of their world; it is self-sufficient, self-absorbing.

The first stanza

The first stanza of the poem is where the speaker, who is one of the lovers talking to his partner, looks back to when they were not in love. That time seems unreal. They were children, naïve, asleep even. Whatever pleasures they experienced were mere unrealities (‘fancies') compared to what they have now. Any beauty (we presume any female beauty) was, again, a mere dream to be set against the present intense and concrete reality.

The second stanza

The second stanza of the poem suggests that the lovers have woken now into true reality, out of the shadows of night. In fact, they make their own reality. The room where they are in bed is their world, and nothing exists outside its walls. Yes, the poet says, there may be worlds out there: let discoverers go and find them or map-makers draw them, but let us use our time possessing our own private world.

The third stanza

One complete world suggests that each is a hemisphere perfectly complementing the other. The poet concludes by suggesting that if they can stay totally constant as lovers, then they cannot die, since, according to current thinking, only what is contrary or of different measure can disintegrate. A perfect harmony or completeness will be theirs.

Investigating The Good-morrow
  • Look at the third stanza
    • Explain the line ‘What ever dies, was not mixt equally'
    • How does it fit into Donne's final argument?
1. Imitation, copy, likeness, statue, picture in literature, art or imagination. 2. A figure of speech in which a person or object or happening is described in terms of some other person, object or action (i.e. as a metaphor or simile)

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean'd till then ?
But suck'd on 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 mix'd equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.