The Good Morrow
by John Donne
The Good Morrow Introduction
In A Nutshell
For most of us, mornings are hard. Some deal by drinking mugs of coffee; others un-drowse over CNN and cinnamon toast crunch. But the aubade, a love poem that takes place the morning after a fun-filled night, is a whole other genre. And by "fun-filled night" we don't mean Office-binges on Netflix. These poems are basically cuddly pillow talk, usually about the nature of love, how sex fits into it, and whether this happiness will last forever.
For the sweethearts in "The Good Morrow," the title says it all. This poem is about waking up: into a new morning after a sexy night, into true love, and into a spiritual unity with the partner who completes you. And get this: "The Good Morrow," which usually headlines collections of John Donne's "Songs and Sonnets," is probably his earliest poem. So does that mean these three stanzas of iambic morning joy could also signify a "good morrow" for Donne himself? Well, if his enduring status as one of England's greatest poets is any clue, heck yes.
Packed with Donne's signature moves, "The Good Morrow" philosophizes about the relationship between sexual and spiritual love, brings in some wild allusions to theology and geography, and decorates everything with metaphysical conceits. Time to wake up and get reading!
Why Should I Care?
Remember the day you upgraded your banged-up flip-top Motorola cell to a gleaming new smartphone and your Entire. Life. Changed? After playing your 567th game of Angry Birds, swiping a few Wat Ups to your friends, and checking the weather forecast, you probably thought to yourself, "OMG, how did I ever live without this?"
Well, John Donne never rocked an iPhone, but this poem is bursting with the same sense of wonder and newness. These lovers can hardly remember what life was like before they fell in love (and bed) together. Okay, they may have messed around with other people, but those shenanigans were lame compared to this rapture.
Plus, just as the fascination of slingshot-ing over-sized chickens at ancient architecture tends to block out the rest of reality—including homework and talking to your mom—this true love is so powerful and sincere that it wipes out the whole world. Other people are excited about exploring new lands (just-published maps were like the smartphones of the seventeenth century: everybody wanted them). But these guys are happy to lie in bed and explore their new love. Why conquer a continent when you've got a whole new world in your bedroom?