Types of Love in Donne's Poetry

Authors Avatar

By looking closely at Donne’s “The Sunne Rising”, and at one other appropriately selected poem by either Donne or another poet, examine the methods the poet or poets use in exploring different kinds of love.

N.B. Equal marks are available for your discussion of each poem.

‘The Sunne Rising’ by John Donne is a celebration of the importance and timelessness of love. The fundamental message in this poem is that Donne and his lover’s love is the most important thing in the universe, and surpasses anything else.

In the fist stanza Donne personifies and trivialises the sun as a ‘busy old fool, unruly sun’. He addresses the sun directly, and the language is conversational – which creates an effect of Donne actually talking to the sun. The tone is indignant; Donne asks why the sun has disturbed him and his lover by peering through the windows and curtains. An original and outrageous idea, he asks the sun ‘Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?’ Their love does not concur with the movements of the sun and its seasons; Donne is almost suggesting that their love is above it, a clear example of hyperbole.

Donne then adopts a rather contemptuous mocking tone, and tells the sun to busy itself with ‘late schoolboys’ and ‘sour prentices’, for the sun should be concerned with ordinary people, not lovers. whose love is not affected by the constraints of time:

   ‘Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,

    Nor houres, days, months, with are the rags of time’

The listing in this rhyming couplet helps to convey the eternality of their love and the pauses after each item creates a staccato effect, and this heavy stressing emphasises each item, again conveying an image of a great length of time. The image of time as a ‘rag’ is used by Donne to mock the inexorability of time – any material object will soon become ragged and decayed. The lover’s love however, is exempt from the detrimental effects of time.  The rhyming couplet also helps to round off and conclude his argument that their love is timeless.

Join now!

In the second stanza Donne cleverly and humorously mocks the sun’s capabilities, stating that he himself can do the same things easily ‘I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink’. This joyful arrogance increases the comedic value of the poem, and keeps the tone light and playful, conveying a joyous happy mood in the speaker.  Donne uses travel conceit, stating that their love is greater than all the explorations and finds, stating that ‘this Indias of spice and mine’ would ‘lie here with me’. This is a topical observation, in Donne’s era explorations were occurring all over the world, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay