The Good-Morrow

by John Donne

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

In the first stanza of John Donne’s poem “The Good-Morrow,” the speaker tries to remember what he and his beloved did—what their lives were like—before they fell in love with each other. He asks if they were not really adults until they found each other, or if they were merely children in all ways until then. Perhaps they were even asleep and dreaming, like the Seven Sleepers of medieval legend. The speaker discusses how any other beauty he saw before hers, he desired and “got” (apparently he had a rich sexual life prior to this relationship), but all of it was only a “dream” of his current lover; it could not compare to her beauty and the desire he feels for her. Everything prior to this love feels like child’s play now, in retrospect and in light of the speaker’s experience of his current love.

In the second stanza, the speaker describes the souls of himself and his lover as coming fully awake now. He and his lover watch one another not because they are afraid but because they love each other, and love changes one’s perspective on everything. The speaker feels that he can leave the world to discoverers and adventurers who traverse the seas or those travelers who use maps to journey far and wide. He and his lover possess a world all their own—they are each other’s worlds—and that is everything they need in life.

In the third stanza, the speaker sees his own face reflected in his lover’s eyes and knows that his eyes reflect her face as well, and they are able to rest comfortably in what they find there. They will not find any “better hemispheres” than each other and the world their love has created, as the real world outside poses dangers and menaces of which they must beware. He knows that nothing within their world of love can ever die, that their two loves have combined to become one, and that when two people love as they do, there are no such dangers to fear.

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