The poem is a love song written from the perspective of a woman who is in love. She is upset because after a night spent with her lover, he will now awaken and leave her because daylight has broken. He has responsibilities and must go to work. In the sixteenth...
The poem is a love song written from the perspective of a woman who is in love. She is upset because after a night spent with her lover, he will now awaken and leave her because daylight has broken. He has responsibilities and must go to work. In the sixteenth century when the poet John Donne wrote, women did not go to work as men did. Therefore, it was difficult for the speaker in this poem to truly understand why her lover must go. She feels no overwhelming desire to get up and do her daily chores, so why does he? She would rather remain with him. In fact, she would like to stay together throughout the day and continue to embrace one another.
Her feelings are revealed in the first stanza. She acknowledges that it is daytime and asks if her lover will leave because of the daylight. She then asks why we should have to get up and leave one another because it is light outside.
She asks, “Did we lie down because ‘twas night?” In other words, she is saying that they did not lie down together because it was night. No, they fell into one another’s arms because they were in love. It was love that brought them together, she says, so it should keep them together even though it is daylight out.
She says that she loves him so much and has given him her heart and honor. She would not leave him to go to work, so why does he have to leave for work? That is the worst part about love—the parting.
She feels many types of men can love, including poor men, liars and immoral men. However, compared to these men, a man who is busy with work cannot enjoy love completely because he has other claims on his time. Ironically, the other men she cites can give themselves completely to love without worrying about being absent from their work because they are either so poor that they do not have meaningful employment, or are liars or immoral, and therefore feel no compunction about dodging their responsibility. The irony of loving an honest, hard-working man is that he must leave to fulfill his responsibility.
A man who is occupied with work and nevertheless makes love to a woman is committing an infraction that is as bad as if he were a married man cheating on his wife, according to the poem. She equates the time her lover spends away from her at work as cheating because she wants to spend all of her time with him.