The Good-Morrow by John Donne

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What does the second stanza of "The Good Morrow" by John Donne mean?  

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Let us just remind ourselves of the context of this excellent poem. The speaker is a man who is addressing a woman with whom he has spent the night. As they wake up and lie in bed together, he talks to her, describing the love that they have.

The title of the poem comes from the second stanza, as the first stanza argues that they were not really born before this point because of their lack of knowledge of love. Now however, their union has caused their souls to "wake," so the speaker bids "good morrow" to them. They have awakened to a love that is trusting and not dominated by fear. Jealousy has no part in their relationship as the purity of their love means they are not looking for other lovers:

For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.

Their love is so complete that even the little room they are in becomes an "everywhere."

The stanza continues by considering the outer world that the lovers have given up to be together. The physical worlds that explorers seek and the spiritual world of the lovers is contrasted, and the speaker affirms that each of the lovers is a world in themselves, but at the same time arguing that they should "possess one world" through their union together. This refers to the Elizabethan belief that every human was their own miniature universe.

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isuwi | Student

The second stanza begins with hail and celebration. The unconscious past of flesh is over and a new conscious spiritual relationship begins. So the speaker cerebrates the present. “Now good morrow to our waking souls”. He also makes declaration that their souls have also learnt not to spy one another. That the married women or men involve in extra-marital affair was a dominant theme in the Elizabethan and Jacobean literature. So, fear only works in sensual lovers as motivation for watching over each other, least the other should become unfaithful to his or her mate. But the speaker and his beloved have overcome this fear and a peaceful satisfaction prevails their love. And for their faithful love they will control the temptations of other things. They love so faithfully and ardently that their love has the force to be merged into the universal love and to move out to become “an every where”. 

As spiritual lovers, the poet and his beloved are indifferent to earthly pleasures and possessions – let the sea-lovers and map-lovers do what they like to do. The lovers want to be happy with their joint world though they have their individual worlds but their individual worlds are fused into a single world. Now they are the joint owners of a single world. 

Here in this stanza, we find the presence of imagery from the contemporary geographical world. That is to say the contemporary geographical interest of the explorers. 

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