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9/02/2018

John Donne’s treatment of love in “The Good-Morrow”?


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Donne was a Jacobean poet and followed the tradition of ‘Metaphysical School of poetry ’ innovated by himself. He does not worship the beauty of the beloved like the Elizabethans. Unlike them, he depends much on arguments. For this reason, he rejects lucid language and introduces conversational rhythm. Donne has used several conceits in the logical development of the love theme. In “The Good-Morrow” the theme of love has been developed from surprise to confidence and then to immortality in the tradition of metaphysical poetry.
The poem opens in a colloquial manner striking a note of surprise:
I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we lov’d?
Its  sudden conversational opening arrests the attention of the readers. Then follow several questions implying the surprise of the speaker at the discovery that they have already been in love. Then passion has been blended with arguments by the use of conceits. For example the unaware love of the lovers has been compared to the innocence of the sucking babies. Similarly, the unconscious love has been compared to a far-fetched image, the sleep of the ‘seven sleepers’. Again the two lovers have been compared to two hemispheres and their souls’ union to the union of the hemispheres the complete world. It is clear that all these unusual comparisons are made between two dissimilar and far-fetched things. They produce a stunning effect that a metaphysical poem requires. The immortality of the love has also been logically suggested. Since they love each other with equal intensity and passion, they will continue to love each other even after death. So, the passion and logic are charmingly blended in Donne’s treatment of love.

Elizabethan poets used to praise female beauty. But Donne has not mentioned anything about the physical beauty of the beloved;  rather he emphasises the union of two souls. Though there is a reference to the eyes of the lovers, it does not reflect the beauty of the eyes. It rather reflects souls’ union. Donne also differs from the Elizabethans in the selection of words and tones. He uses sonorous and archaic words. So, in dealing with the love theme, Donne differs from his immediate predecessors in attitude, technique and diction. The lover in “The Good Morrow” does not worship his beloved. Nor does he describe the physical beauty of his beloved in lucid language like the Elizabethan poets. He rather argues in every day language to emphasise the spiritual love.

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