The Good-Morrow

by John Donne

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What geographical references does John Donne make in "The Good-Morrow"?

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In “The Good-Morrow,” John Donne uses geography in some of his conceits. The speaker mentions the Seven Sleepers' den in Ephesus. He refers to a little room as a whole world when his beloved is with him, and he leaves further geographic discoveries to sea explorers and maps. He also calls himself and his beloved two perfectly aligned hemispheres.

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John Donne's poem “The Good-Morrow” is a classic metaphysical poem in which the poet uses conceits (intricate, extended metaphors) to present his ideas. In this poem, several of Donne's conceits have to do with geography.

The speaker begins with some questions. He wonders what he and his beloved did until they found each other and fell in love. Perhaps they were not truly weaned yet but remained children until their love matured them. Perhaps they snored away in the Seven Sleepers' den. Here is our first geographic (and legendary) reference, for the Seven Sleepers' den points to a cave near Ephesus where seven young people escaped the persecution of Christians only to wake up about three hundred years later.

As the poem continues, the speaker asserts that his soul and the soul of his beloved are fully awake now. In fact, they are so intent upon each other that the little room they are in seems like a whole world. The speaker will leave discoveries of new worlds to sea explorers (another geographic hint), and he will let maps show these other worlds. There is only one world for him, the world he and his beloved are when they are together.

The final stanza presents further geographic imagery. The speaker and his beloved are like two perfect hemispheres that fit together without “sharp north” or “declining west.” They are flawlessly aligned, perhaps even better than the world itself.

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