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Critical assessment of the poem 'The Sun Rising' by John Donne

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Mark Heckels Critical assessment of the poem 'The Sun Rising' by John Donne In 'The Sun Rising' by John Donne, the poet is awakened by the sun's rays streaming through the curtains into his bedroom, where he lies with his lover. Wishing to prolong the pleasure of lying in, cuddled beside her, he tells the Sun not to disturb the peace of the bedroom. The fact that the Sun's other duties are, amongst others, to wake "late schoolboys" and "call country ants to harvest offices" suggests that the day is already well established, and the poet must soon accept to part from his lover's embrace. But love, he argues, is not ruled by time or the natural order, and is quite independent of them, and therefore he is annoyed that the Sun should meddle in the affairs of lovers and cause this parting: "Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time." Indeed, in the second and third stanzas, Donne questions the natural order, and claims that the love between himself and his girl is superior to the Sun's, and all other rulers', ...read more.


The poet's dismay at being disturbed from such contented slumbers is no more than playful insolence. In the second and third stanzas, this insolence develops into a certain arrogance and confidence in the power of the love between the poet and his lover, but the playful, trivial overtone remains, as if acknowledging that, in questioning the power of the Sun and all the kingdoms of the Earth, the poet is taking on quite a force. The imagery of the Indias and all the kings lying in the one bed increases this sense of playfulness. Nevertheless, this love is shown to be quite special: "Thou, sun, art half as happy as we." The assertion that the Sun actually shines from the lovers' bed, and not from somewhere in the heavens, is remarkably arrogant, though again somewhat jocular. The vast imagery adopted throughout is a measure of the poet's awe and amazement at such a powerful bond of love. The woman lying in bed beside him, for whom this poem is really destined, cannot help but feel flattered by such strong emotions. ...read more.


The jocular tone of the poem and its use of burlesque imagery was a refreshing change from the terribly serious, grandiose love poetry that characterised the seventeenth century. The poem, I am quite certain, would have been a complete hit with its destined reader; the poet's lover would be prey to the same surge of love and exuberant confidence as the poem exudes, and would be greatly amused by the poet's hints of his own virility (more powerful than the Sun, the presence of all the Kings in the bed). The extensive flattery would have been much appreciated, and the irreverent, joyful mood of the poem would coincide well with the lover's own mood. Moreover, its originality would make it more striking and memorable. Because it is successful with regards to its target audience, but also to the lay reader, the poem is shown to be a good one. Some people would be offended by the arrogance and insolence shown by the poet, but in general, it must be appreciated that the poem does not take itself seriously, and this is refreshing after so many weighty, and sometimes heavy-handed, love poems. ...read more.

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