The Good-Morrow

by John Donne

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved?
The speaker begins with a question addressed to an unnamed lover in the poem. Since the poem is titled “The Good-Morrow,” the reader is led to understand that he is speaking to his lover as he awakens in the morning. Enamored with the sight of her, he is overcome with adoration and cannot fathom life before this love. What did we do before? It’s a rhetorical question meant to show how captivated he remains with this woman.
Were we not weaned till then?
By comparison, anything that came before this love is immature and childish. Donne uses the verb weaned to indicate a state of infancy. If he thought he loved before, he was ignorant in his childlike thinking.
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus are a legend in Christianity. According to the story, seven soldiers refused to participate in pagan rituals and were concealed in a cave which was later sealed; the seven fell into a deep sleep. Over a hundred years later, the cave was opened, and the seven soldiers were awakened. This reference in the poem indicates that the speaker thinks that he was asleep before this love; his eyes had not been opened to the miracle of such a powerful connection.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls, Which watch not one another out of fear;
The speaker feels connected to his lover in his very soul. As he awakens with her close by, his soul also awakens to the possibilities that a new day can bring. There is no fear in their relationship; they exist together only in contentment and pleasure.
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
Others seek adventure in the exploration of other places. They use maps to travel and are led to excitement through the discovery of locales yet unseen. By contrast, the speaker notes that this place is his world—and his lover’s. They don’t need to travel to faraway and exotic places, as the excitement and adventure lies right there in the bedroom on this “good morrow.” He can be her world, and she can be his.
Where can we find two better hemispheres, Without sharp north, without declining west?
The speaker uses another rhetorical question to demonstrate to his lover that they are perfectly matched. Like the two hemispheres of the globe, they complete each other. Even better, they lack the coldness found in the Arctic Circle (at “sharp north”), and their love will never fade like a sunset (in the “declining west”). It’s a perfectly matched love without flaws.

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