The Sun Rising

by John Donne

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How does Donne combine physical and spiritual love in "The Sun Rising"?

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Donne combines physical and spiritual love in "The Sun Rising" by expressing the euphoric sense of being in love in physical terms. It is similar to, but better than, having all the wealth of India and all the power of kings.

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In "The Sun Rising," the speaker wants the sun to go away and not rise so that he can have more time to stay in bed and make physical love to his beloved. To the speaker, that physical love is not divorced from the spiritual love he feels for his beloved but, rather, is an expression of it. This euphoric state of wanting more time with his beloved causes the speaker to jeer at the sun as less powerful than he is and to express his joy in physical terms.

The speaker is in the heady state of having fallen head over heels in love, and he expresses the sense of the spiritual riches it brings him in physical terms. He uses hyperbole or exaggeration as his chief way of conveying how wonderful he feels. He brags and tells the sun that by tomorrow "Indias of spice" (vast, coveted riches) and the world's "kings" (the powerful) will "here in one bed lay." In other words, he and his beloved have a love that is richer and more powerful than all the riches and the power of the world. Love, a spiritual state, turns him and his beloved into "all princes" and "all states." The sun, though bright and powerful and "reverend" or worthy of worship, is only "half as happy" as the lovers.

By putting love in physical terms that people can easily understand, the speaker conveys how rich, powerful, and happy being in love makes him feel. While in that euphoric state, he feels richer than the rich and more powerful than the powerful—all of the material desires of the world are less than love itself.

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