The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Good-Morrow” is a poem of twenty-one lines divided into three stanzas. The poet addresses the woman he loves as they awaken after having spent the night together.

The poem begins with a direct question from the poet to the woman. Deliberately exaggerating, the poet expresses his conviction that their lives only began when they fell in love. Before, they were mere babies at their mothers’ breasts or were indulging in childish “country pleasures.” This phrase had a double edge in John Donne’s time: it would have been understood as a reference to gross sexual gratification. Perhaps, the poet continues, they were asleep in the Seven Sleepers’ den (referring to an ancient Syrian legend in which persecuted Christians slept for several hundred years in a cave near Ephesus). He asserts that compared with their true love (“this”), all past pleasures have been merely “fancies,” and the women he “desir’d, and got” were only a “dream” of this one woman.

The second stanza opens with a triumphant greeting to their souls as they awaken into a constant, trusting love. They have no need to keep a jealous eye on each other because their love subdues the desire to look for other partners; it is so complete, so self-sufficient, that it “makes one little room, an everywhere.”

The emphasis moves to the external world that the lovers have abandoned for each other. The poet contrasts the physical worlds sought by...

(The entire section is 456 words.)