Summary and Analysis of The Sun Rising by John Donne: 2022


The metaphysical poet, John Donne was born in England, London on January 22, 1572.  He is known in the history of English Literature as the founder of metaphysical poems, his works comprising of philosophy, religion, unconventional perspectives, paradoxical situations, the art of imagery and wittiness.


“The Sun Rising” by John Donne is a composition of 30 lines constituting 3 stanzas. In this metaphysical love poem, the speaker is angry at the sun for disturbing him and his lover during the morning hours and urges the son to stop disturbing them.


The poem is set in the rhythm of natural speech in the form of a one sided conversation between the speaker and the personified sun.


“Busy old fool”, the sun here has been personified, also the use of the word “thou” as a means to address the sun is also indicative of the personification.
“I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink”
“Through windows, and through curtains call on us?”


“Busy old fool, unruly sun,   (A)
               Why dost thou thus,   (B)
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?   (B)
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?  (A)
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide    (C)
               Late school boys and sour prentices,   (D)
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,   (C)
         Call country ants to harvest offices,   (D)
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,   (E)
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.”   (E)


The poet has personified the sun and expresses his anger towards the “busy old fool” for disturbing the sleep of his lover and him. The speaker asks the sun why it peeks through the windows and the curtains during early morning hours to call on the speaker and his lover.  The speaker acknowledges the eternity of love, saying that love has no season or time and angrily calls the sun “saucy pedantic wretch”. He asks the sun to chide the boys who are late to school or the ants who have to harvest or to inform the huntsmen about the king’s wish to ride the horses, rather than disturbing them. Unlike the sun, love does not abide by the rules of time, it follows neither hours, nor months or years or seasons.
The speaker says that though the sun’s rays are strong and worthy of respect, he is capable of clouding them by closing his eyes, but does not do so for he doesn’t wish to lose the sight of his beautiful lover for so long. The speaker then appreciates the beauty of his lover, saying that his lover’s eyes are brighter than the sun itself, and all the exotic places the sun visits and the interesting things the sun encounters every day, are all combined within his beloved. Through this exaggeration, the speaker asserts that the brilliance and divine of his lover exceeds that of the sun. The speaker reduces the entire world to him and his lover, he says that “all states” are his mistress and him “all princes”. The real princes, according to the speaker, honor only wealth. The speaker says that he has eased the old sun’s work for the sun has to shine only in his and his lover’s bed, for both of them are the world, and their room, the centre. The speaker implies that the sun has to shine in their bedroom and thus, it will shine everywhere.


“The Sun Rising” is a metaphysical love poem and is a joy to read for its magnificent imagery. The poem also represents in an extraordinary way the power of love and the emotions of a lover, love being independent of every law and rule. Love does not abide by the rule of time and is the most divine among all for even the almighty sun is subject to hours, months and seasons.


The tone of the poem is that of a natural speech mixed with emotions of anger, fascination, intrigue and most of all, love.


“The Sun Rising” reminds the readers, in the most extraordinary way, that the strength of love defeats anything and everything, and that love is not subject to any universal law, it does not follow any rule, the beauty of love and the lovers’ emotions lie in the notion of independence.
Contributor: Radhika Goel

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