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The Good Morrow

The Good Morrow


by John Donne

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 8-9

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;

  • The "and now" at the beginning of this stanza signals that the introduction is over and we're getting down to the real meat of the poem: the waking souls.
  • Spot that title? We've got a "good-morrow" tucked in line 8, serving as a hyphenated greeting, an old-timey version of "good morning." Wake up, everyone!
  • The first stanza was all about bodies: breastfeeding, sex, sleep. Stanza two wakes up the souls and starts to shows us what exactly this true love is and why it's powerful enough to make all the speaker's ex-girlfriends pale in comparison.
  • Line 9 takes us back to the Seven Sleepers. The souls waking up in this love-bed are different than those children because the souls feel no fear. Think about it: if you were walled up by a foaming-at-the-mouth Roman tyrant, you'd probably be feeling pretty creeped out—even if you were with six of your best buds.
  • The point the speaker's making is that true love, the kind that involves the souls, is totally without fear. They watch each other and feel only the pure joy of being together.

Lines 10-11

For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.

  • The reason these souls are so perfectly satisfied is that erotic love overpowers the love of anything else. Apple pie, soccer, grumpy cat? That stuff means nothing when you're in the grip of true adoration.
  • But at the same time that the outside world begins to mean nothing to you, love is turning your bedroom (or wherever you get it on with your beloved) into a microcosm, or smaller version of the world. True love is so perfect and all-consuming that it can contain the whole universe.
  • This hyperbolic claim kicks off some serious geographic and cartographic imagery in the poem, so stay tuned for more on space, exploration, and the global reach of true love.

Lines 12-14

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

  • The triplet of stanza two responds to the quatrain with three recommendations, using anaphora: the repetition of the same word(s) at the beginning of succeeding lines. Here it's "let," which really underlines the speaker's suggestions.
  • Since love has made their bedroom the equivalent of the whole world, these lovers are no longer interested in traveling anywhere else. Leave the discovery of new lands to those loser explorers, like Vasco da Gama and Cortez. They were probably single anyway.
  • Other people (read: those not in love) have looked at maps and been inspired by the mind-blowing complexity of the world: a globe with so many new and exotic places just discovered that it looks like multiple worlds exist within the larger world.
  • Unknown empires and South American cities? Sign us up!
  • But these lovers aren't interested in tearing up a new jungle. Through their love, they already possess the whole world, right there in that rumpled bed.
  • The speaker drives home their disinterest with a cute paradox that goes back to the "worlds on worlds" of line 13: he has his own world (his lady friend) to explore all by himself, but he's also a world himself, ready to be explored. That makes this bedroom (which is also the whole world) a pretty world-saturated sanctuary.

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