The Good-Morrow

by John Donne

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What are critical interpretations of "The Good-Morrow"?

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"The Good Morrow" is one of Donne's most famous poems, the subject of much literary interpretation and criticism. Its numerous allusions to seventeenth-century philosophical and scientific beliefs can be confusing to modern readers, but the poem itself develops a singular theme: the expression of romantic love between two lovers.

The title, translated to mean "the good morning," suggests the poem's setting. The narrator has awakened and speaks to his lover, after they have spent the night together. In the first stanza, he asks her questions about what their lives had been before they met. As the stanza ends, he concludes that all his previous experiences in love were insignificant:

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

In the second stanza, the narrator moves from the lovers' past to their present; he also moves from the physical, superficial aspects of their love to its deeper spiritual nature:

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Because their love is profound, with one soul loving the other, neither will be attracted to anyone or anything beyond themselves. "One little room" (any room they are in together) becomes "everywhere." Together, they become a world of their own.

The third stanza develops the idea of two melding into one entity, two "hemispheres" to be "mix'd equally." The concluding lines look to their future together:

If our two loves be one, or thou and I

Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

The narrator believes that the love they have found with each other, if preserved, will be immortal.

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