John Donne's The Sun Rising

John Donne's The Sun Rising

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John Donne's "The Sun Rising"

 

In his poem, "The Sun Rising," Donne immerses the reader into his transmuted reality with an apostrophe to the "busy old fool, unruly sun" that "through curtains" calls upon him, seizing him from the bliss which "no season knows." This bliss, a passionate love, stimulates him to reinvent reality within the confines of his own mind, a wishful thinking from which he does not readily depart, much like a sleepy child clings to the consequences of a dream.

In his address to the sun, he bids "the saucy, pedantic wretch" "go chide late schoolboys, and sour prentices," resembling a petulant youth imploring for more time to slumber. His reference to the sun as "saucy" and "pedantic" evinces his aversion to the hindrance that time poses upon his life. The rude, or "saucy" morning intrudes upon his rapture, a punctual reminder that time ceases for nothing and for no one.

 

The speaker then boastfully asserts his power over the sun's rays, stating that "he could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, but that he would not lose her sight so long." This obviously undermines his argument because if it were not for those same beams of light, he would not see his love. Donne surely was aware of the ridiculous nature of this assertion; he appears to be attempting to accentuate the flaws in his argument against the sun, perhaps to emphasize the foolishness of a person in love. He continues this emphasis with his claim that all the riches and nobility the sun has seen "all here in one bed lie."

His frivolous praise to his love continues; he declares that he and his mistress are superior not only to the ruler of the sky, but all others as well. "Princes" he sneers "do but play us." He declares that "all honour's mimic" of the reverence he and his love share, that "all wealth alchemy" compared to the splendor of love, and that the sun is but "half as happy" as this couple.

 

It is evident that the speaker is aware of his folly; his foolish, yet eloquent speech is solely for the benefit of his beloved.

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She silently receives his words as the sun silently refutes them. Since the sun cannot be stopped, the arrogant lover pretends to grant the sun leave to remain. He cleverly turns the sun's refusal to leave into a show of his generosity. If the sun is determined to warm the whole world, then the speaker would make his job easier for him by permitting him to stay: "Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere."

 
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