The Good Morrow Analysis by John Donne as a Metaphysical Poem
John Donne is one of the most celebrated poets of English language belonging to the metaphysical school of thought. “The Good Morrow” is one of his best poems which has been awarded with some magnificent traits of metaphysical poetry by the poet making it a jolting as well as well as an enthralling read. Donne has shed light upon the quintessence and unparalleled beauty of the true love which he and his beloved share by taking help from his metaphysical wit in this poem which speaks volumes about his credibility as a metaphysical poet. We attempt the good morrow analysis from a metaphysical point of view.
Metaphysical poetry is predominantly intellectual where the emotions of the poet are expressed through the working of the intellect. The metaphysical conceits present in ‘The Good Morrow’ in plenty which fuse binaries into singular essences, exemplify this particular trait. Donne has compared the transfiguring effect of love and its macrocosmic spread with the discoveries of Drake, Magellan and Columbus. His pre-love days where he was deprived of true beauty has been compared to slumber in “The seven sleeper’s den”. In these conceits two very heterogeneous entities have been violently fused in a single matrix, the unlikeness of which strikes us more than its justness, which is exactly what metaphysical poetry stands for. These conceits which are far-fetched and hyperbolic are also responsible for providing Good Morrow with a certain level of obscurity and novelty of thought which is what the metaphysical poets strived to attain in their poetry.
A major trait of metaphysical poetry is to break away from the Petrarchan traditions of poetry making. ‘The Good Morrow’ is very different from the 16th century Elizabethan love poems in the way it treats love and the mistress. The love lyrics of his predecessors speak more of the pursuit of love and the angst caused by it as opposed to the fulfillment of heart’s desires and portrays the beloved as someone angelic and hence unattainable. On the contrary Donne has described his beloved as one made of flesh and blood with whom he has enjoyed satisfying moments of love.
Metaphysical poets were learned men whose knowledge of the world around them was discernible in their poetry. Good Morrow showcases this trait as well because of its extreme heterogeneity of references to many branches of learning such as geography, astronomy, mythology and so on. By comparing the quintessence of his love in a metaphysical conceit to the fifth element, he has drawn a parallel from medieval alchemy – “Whatever dies was not mixt equally”.
Metaphysical poetry is highly analytical which is why Donne comes across as an argumentative lawyer in Good Morrow. He tries to drive his point home that love can give a totality of experience that can encompass the world around without demanding any sacrifice of one’s identity by the blend of passion and reasoning professed through his dazzling conceits and intellectual statements – “Each hath one and is one”.
‘The Good Morrow’ because of its sharp anti-Petrarchan conceits, vibrant yet seemingly odd images and the heterogeneous assimilation of ideas and allusion, is a great piece of Metaphysical poetry where a perfect marriage takes place between the soul and the body, emotionality and intellectuality, the physical and the psychological and the sublime and the scholastic. This poem because of its imagery, conceits and subtle lyrical quality entails the “more intellectual less verbal character” of Donne’s wit. Did you like the good morrow analysis? Also, don’t forget to share your feedback! Suggested reading:
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Keywords – metaphysical conceit good morrow (1.1)