Break Of Day John Donne

Please explain for me the poem "Break of Day" by John Donne.

I didn't find enough information about it and have a project due, which is that I should explain the poem for the students. I want to do a power point, also I searched a lot to find a good information, but I find only five papers, so I want someone who can help me please and thanks.

Expert Answers
theyellowbookworm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Donne’s “Break of Day” is a love poem. The title implies the dawning of morning or the first appearance of the sun. The poem, broken into three 6-line stanzas, follows the rhyme scheme AABBCC - hence the rhymed couplets – and is written in iambic tetrameter (four ianbic patterns).

In the first stanza, the speaker laments that morning has arrived and that her lover must leave. She believes that love should be strong enough to hold the two together despite the coming of the morning. Donne writes, “Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither, / Should in despite of light keep us together.” This first stanza defines the problem: the lovers must be separated. Donne uses imagery that highlights the light / dark dichotomy to demonstrate that this relationship can only exist in the dark, therefore implying that it is secret and clandestine.

In the second stanza, the speaker observes that the light “hath no tongue, but is all eye.” In other words, the light can spy on the lovers but cannot tell their secrets. If the light could speak, it would tell of the speaker’s happiness.

In the final stanza, the speaker grieves that business will pull her lover away. She argues that business, and the busy man, are the worst disease against love. Love can endure “The poor, the foul, the false,” but “not the busied man.” The poem ends with a simile. Here, Donne writes:  “He which hath business, and makes love, doth do / Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.” Hence, the man that has business and makes love does such a wrong that can be compared to a married man having an affair.

Dr. Samuel Johnson saw Donne, who lived in the late 16th and early 17th century as a "Metaphysical Poet.” In other words, Donne was connected with a group of poets who used art, history and religion as extended metaphor. In poetry, this is type of metaphor is known as a conceit. The Metaphysical Poets characteristically used unusual imagery and syntax in their poems. Donne converted from Catholicism to the Anglican church and was eventually forced by King James I to become an Anglican clergyman. Interestingly, “Break of Day” was set to music by three different composers contemporary to Donne: John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons and William Corkine.

Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator in this poem is a woman, speaking as day breaks, and her lover is getting up to go.  She is asking who cares if it's daylight. Since it wasn't the night that made them lie down together, why should they have to part now that it is day? She then goes on to say that if light could speak, it would testify that her partner holds her "love and honor," and she wouldn't let him (or them) get away if she had a choice.  In the third stanza, she asks whether business must force him to leave, and goes on to complain that a busy man who want to make love is as bad as married man who is cheating on his wife because being busy interferes with love. 

For a Power Point presentation, it might be nice to have some background images of the sun and the moon, or some other representations of darkness and light.  Many are freely available for educational use on Google images.