What is the tone of John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow"?
John Donne's poem "The Good-Morrow" is part of his Songs and Sonnets published in 1633, and although he called this a sonnet, the poem is 21 lines long rather than 14 and is a mix of iambic pentameter (5 lines of unstressed/stressed syllables) and iambic hexameter (6 lines). This poem, like many poems written by other metaphysical poets, centers on love, both physical and spiritual, and is presented as a dramatic monologue. The tone is light, informal, and highly intimate, with imagery drawn from religion (Donne was a great preacher), science, and, most interestingly, cartography. Above all, Donne speaks to his lover about physical love and its transformation to an undying spiritual love, very reminiscent of one of his later poems to his wife, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." Many metaphysical poems are framed on the if . . . then construct--that is, if this is true, then this must be the case, a very simple argument. Although framed as a monologue, the poem assumes the assent or agreement of the listener.
Donne's light, conversational tone, fostered by Anglo-Saxon-based language, begins to develop his theme from the first line:
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I/Did, till we loved? Were we not wean'd till then?/But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?
With a wonderful example of hyperbole--that they began to exist only as couple--Donne's rhetorical question establishes the quietly joyous tone and using the familiar thou rather than a more formal you. We are silent witnesses to a private (but one-sided) conversation between two lovers whose intimacy is comfortable and deeply rooted.
The conversational tone continues in Donne's first allusion:
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den?/'Twas so, but this, all...
(The entire section contains 570 words.)
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