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The Good Morrow

The Good Morrow

by John Donne

Sight and Seeing

Symbol Analysis

"The Good Morrow" is a poem about waking up, and with all that good new light streaming in your window, learning how to see in a new way plays a big part. In stanza one, the speaker sees his past in a new light, recognizing that past flings were all about sensation in the moment, without the lasting happiness and security of a real relationship. Sight imagery is all over stanzas two and three as well, but here it's focused on looking forward rather than backward. The waking souls are watching each other, and the lovers themselves are locking eyes. And what do those pinprick retinal reflections tell them? That they belong together.

  • Line 6: Before he experienced true love, this speaker was definitely a lust-at-first-sight kind of guy. As soon as he claps an eye on some hottie, he desires and beds her.
  • Line 7: But his ladies' man past is now coming in for some eye-rolling. This dude finally realizes that the woman he's looking at now is the real thing. All those other hookups were childish and unimportant.
  • Line 9: Now that their souls have wakened into a new world of true love, they can look at each other with complete honesty and appreciation, confident that nothing sad, bad, or deceitful will happen. 
  • Line 10: Love is a government with no checks and balances: it controls every other kind of love. "Sights" here refers to anything in the world these lovers might look at. But they're content to keep it local because the love they share is so strong and compelling that everything else disappears.
  • Line 15: Just like the souls, the speaker and the GF are face to face, gazing into each others' eyes. What's important here is that they both see images of themselves, reflected in the eyes and in the feelings written on the other's face. In other words, they contain each other.

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