Q & A: Discuss John Donne’s “The Good Morrow” as a metaphysical poem


Discuss John Donne’s “The Good Morrow” as a metaphysical poem.

A metaphysical poem is a kind of poem whose sense of appeal to the imagination transcends the physical world; exploring a kind of spiritual world to present the truth about the subject matter in a way that, one would say, might have not been reasoned before. Such is the ingenuity of John Donne’s passionate appeal in “The Good Morrow“. The poem is predicated on love; it is surgical on the poet-persona’s heartfelt, and intelligent proposal to his lover who, by the virtue of some sociopolitical constraint of the era, must be convinced of the chemistry beyond reasonable doubts. This essay, thus underpinned, aims to set the discourse in the poem to the genre, considering its salient elements of the metaphysical poetry.

For one, the poet employs the element, unified sensibilities. It takes a homologous structure approach in relating two dissimilar entities: a fusion of passionate feeling and logical argument. This lifts the emotional sense of the poem into mental depth as seen in the extended metaphors, “two better hemispheres” (line 3, stanza 3), “maps”. This kind of poem presents a fresh outlook on love as a matter of reasoning, as Shakespeare says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream , “Love looks not with the eye, but with the mind”. Creating something new on the subject, John Donne does not conform to the tradition of likening the lover to romantic elements inherent in nature in order that he grounds the eternity of such a feeling; but he uses intellectual analogies that are not to be found anywhere in the natural world. The allusion, “seven sleepers’ den”, metaphors, “map”, “little room… everywhere”, “two… hemispheres”, and ultimately, the epigram, “whatever dies was not mixed equally” are all oriented toward the overlapping effect of intellectuality on emotions, although both make a sensible merger that dispels the illusion of one not being an existential determinant of love.


Secondly, metaphysical poetry is dramatic in manner and direct in tone. The poem is almost a monologue as we garner that the poet-persona passionately addresses his lover throughout the poem. The poem takes the mode of a singly undertaken straight talk on the subject bringing up a fancy memory idealised in the poet-persona’s imagination of a reality, “I wonder by my troth, what thou and I/Did, till we loved?” (lines 1-2, stanza 1). In stanza 2, the poet gets on with the subject he earnestly seeks to relate as a matter of urgency (telling from the straight-to-the-point flow of thought, and brevity); and clarity. Again, as a matter of truth. In light of this, the discussion goes intellectual and complex as is the preserve of metaphysical poetry. Following through, a surgical sublimity is achieved by subsuming the implicit limitations as well as the idealised spurning under the complex rendition of the dissimilar; metaphysical world of truth which evades the vanity of reasonable doubts. And persuading the lover to see in that light, the poem becomes a bobbling up truth from the imagination of the poet who diplomatically seizes the temporal and environmental monopoly of thought to win the lady’s reasoning over to the possibility that lies ahead “If our two loves be one, or, thou and I/Love so alike, that none do slacken, nor can die”.

Thirdly, the poem is apt on metaphysical conceit. In essence, what is conceited in the poem is both intrinsic and extrinsic. For the former, the poet-persona is not outspoken on his proposal perhaps from chivalry, or being courteous and to want to discuss the subject in a way that deviates from the traditional circus. For the latter, the poem, by extension, is a reflection of the whooping schism and division that existed among the English people of the seventeenth century on the grounds of humanism. At that time, papacy was very much rebuffed and protestantism fought for recognition, creating the division of the Christians into Catholics and Protestants through a cold blood war. There was also conflicting political ideals as the Protestants became frondeurs of the raison d’état. Technically and apparently, romantic chemistry was impossible among the two poor classes. This was the background phenomenon that birthed the poem. And this is why John Donne adopts this kind of stylised love piece to cross the boundary set by the construct of the time, highly imagining a world of possibility different from the imbroglio they both have found themselves on the aforementioned note.

To cap it all, that John Donne’s “The Good Morrow” is a metaphysical poem is a far reaching substance of indubitability. From the salience of the elements employed in presenting the age long subject of love, we see that the poem combines passion and logic to express love in a way that rather taxes reasoning and imagination than merely appealing to it. The quality of the poem is enforced by the beyond-the-physical kind of recreating a spectacle of sensational (mostly visual) elements to appeal for the classlessness of love – and the eternity of its genuineness at that.

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