The Good Morrow: a Metaphysical Explication

The Good Morrow: A Metaphysical Explication

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    by Michael Hall

    Few come close to such a thorough expression of love as John Donne. In his poem, ‘The Good Morrow,’ Donne fully employs the numerous devices of poetry to relay his speaker’s endearing message to his lover. He uses elements of structure, figurative language, point-of-view, and tone to creatively support his speaker in the endeavor. However, not all aspects of the poem are clear due to the astute allusions and references by the learned Donne. Examples of these unclear elements are found in the first stanza’s ‘seaven sleepers den’ phrase, the second stanza’s exploration imagery, and the final stanza’s hemispherical imagery. On the surface, these references may seem to be carelessly included and non-supportive of the central theme. But we will come to see that these references do much to further support the speaker’s message. We will come to discover that Donne’s ‘The Good Morrow’ is poem that efficiently uses devices to maximize the poetic potential of the verse, and contains erudite allusions and references that further support the speaker’s message to his beloved.

    ‘The Good Morrow’ is interestingly structured to aid the speaker in his message. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which includes seven lines. In addition, each of these stanzas is further divided into a quatrain and a triplet. In the book, John Donne and the Metaphysical Gesture, Judah Stampfer notes that each ‘iambic pentameter quatrain is rounded out, not with a couplet, but a triplet with an Alexandrine close a, b, a, b, c, c, c.’ (142). This division is not solely reflected in the rhyme scheme, but also in the verse. For example, the quatrain is used to reveal the speaker’s state of mind, while the triplet allows the speaker to reflect on that mindset (Stampfer 142). In addition, the first stanza strategically...