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The Good Morrow Theme of Sex

Souls crop up a lot in Donne's poetry, which is no surprise given his late-career shift into sermons. But this guy didn't spend his youth bedding the ladies for nothing. Sex makes a good showing too. In fact, the relationship between spiritual and physical love is one of Donne's biggest interests, on display in crowd-pleasers like "The Ecstasy," "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," as well as in lesser known poems like "The Good Morrow." Although he explores every philosophical variation you can wrap your brain around (and some you can't), the bottom line is this: love and sex work together.

But "The Good Morrow" also makes clear that sex on its own lacks the emotional satisfaction of true spiritual love. Just look what happens when the speaker tries to remember his past relationships. Those pleasures are all childish, vulgar "fancies," melting away under the hot perfect sun of this new love.

Questions About Sex

  1. Which, according to the speaker, is better: physical love or spiritual love? What parts of the poem support your idea? 
  2. For this speaker, how important is beauty to sex? Is it different for love, do you think? What elements of the poem lead you to your conclusions? 
  3. What is the body's role in spiritual love, according to the poem? How do you know?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although sex is an essential part of true love, by itself it isn't important or memorable. Yawn.

The speaker is clearly in the honeymoon phase of this relationship. As the sexual energy winds down, so will his feelings of love for the addressed.

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