The Good-Morrow by John Donne

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What is the meaning of "country pleasures" in "The Good-Morrow"?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In his poem "The Good-Morrow," John Donne compares the carnal/sexual love he and his lover once shared to the spiritual love they have now achieved and that can never die.

In the first stanza, in which the phrase "country pleasures" appears, Donne asks how the two of them lived before they found their spiritual love. He compares them to children, doing childish things, and to a famous story of seven Christians who were sealed asleep in a cave.

The words "country pleasures" are a pun—they have a double meaning. They can mean simply the experiences of simple, outdoor play children might enjoy. But the words can also mean sex, a meaning reinforced by Donne's use of the words "sucked" and "not weaned" near the phrase. For a similar example, in Hamlet, there is a famous line in which Hamlet asks Ophelia if he can lie in her lap. She refuses, and he asks her if she thought he meant "country matters," in other words, lying on her lap as if they are copulating.

Donne's point is that these carnal "country pleasures" are childish and inadequate compared to the higher merging of spiritual love the two lovers now enjoy.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the poem "The Good-Morrow," the phrase "country pleasures" is referring to pleasures that are really not sophisticated. They are pleasures that country people would enjoy but that more "civilized" people would look down on.

This really goes with the idea of this poem as a whole. The speaker is saying that he and his love were nothing until they fell in love. He compares them to children who hadn't grown up. In the phrase you cite, he compares them to country people who had not really become civilized or sophisticated.

So I believe the phrase refers to things that only unsophisticated "country people" would find enjoyable.

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jebrowning | Student

One of the several possible meanings to the phrase "country pleasures" is its use as a slang phrase, used euphemistically to refer to sexual intercourse.

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kc4u | Student

The phrase 'country pleasures' occurs in the first verse of Donne's poem, The good-Morrow:

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? were we not weaned till then,
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

In this poem, the lover addresses the beloved in the first person mode with a question which is followed by more questions that seem to contain answers to the opening one. The phrase 'country pleasures' is part of the questionnaire.

In the three verses of the poem, the speaker initiates a journey, a journey from the past to the present to the future of love. a journey from the body to the mind and thence to the spirit. The opening question looks back into their past history of love, a sheer bodily engagement which they mistook for love. They were actually separated while they were under the illusory impression of union. 'were we not weaned till then?' is the question that looks back into that state. 'But sucked on country pleasures childishly?' extends the interrogation. Despite being adult persons, the two lovers behaved 'childishly' and wanted to enjoy bodily pleasures. By the phrase 'country pleasures', the lover means the gross rustic pleasures of the senses when the souls were in a state of slumber.

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