Friday, May 4, 2012

John Donne's The Sunne Rising

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Donnes iconoclastic aubade The Sunne Rising, is one of the greatest works produced by this poet and stands as a benchmark for the quality of works created by the well known metaphysical poets of his era. An understanding of the metaphysical standpoint Donne takes in his writings is essential to grasp the themes and ideas conveyed through his poems. Further, the tone mood and structure are crucial techniques Donne utilises to create a message powerful in its delivery and effective in its aim. Donnes fascination with Latin poetry confirms that this ode is based on a similar work by Ovid entitled Amores 1.1, in which entirely similar themes are conveyed to the reader.


The poem seems to immerse the reader into a transmuted reality, in that the love of the narrator is blind to that that is greater than himself the sun. This purely individualistic symbol creates an existential feel to Donnes motives. Busy old fool, unruly sun,..., The angry tone in the opening line creates the conceit of the poem, ie, the outstanding message that Donne attempts to convey through this startling opening. The vowel sounds of fool and unruly accents the strongly angry tone used. The tone of the first few lines is key in setting the sun in its place relative to the lovers. The rhetorical question in the second and third lines Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains call on us? Personifies the sun and allows the lover to question it thus. The tone creates a symbolic message; the blind love experienced by the narrator is the essence of ignorance. This in turn creates irony, as the sun is, as opposed to love, the essence of time and seasons.


The selfishness of the lover is again shown as he insults the sun Saucy pedantic wretch.., The insulting tone adds to the readers understanding of the hindrance the sun places on the life of the lover. The next few lines accumulate various reasons why the sun should not bother the likes of a lover go chide late school boys and sour prentices.. These orders the lover rhetorically gives to the sun in turn allows him to place himself above those whom he mentions. The array of objects mentioned ants, huntsmen, boys and prentices creates an tone of arrogance. This also adds to the conceit and accents his ignorance of the vastness of nature. In the final two lines of this first stanza the lover attempts to justify these accusations Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. Here, we see again the irrational rapture of the lover easily belittle such great forces. This proves a vain attempt to justify his views as we learn in the second stanza that without the light provided by the sun the lover will not be able view his lover.


We see a change in tone in the second stanza. A pattern forms in the first four lines; in which irony is created in the end Thy beams, so reverend and strong Why shouldst thou think? I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, But that I would not lose her sight so long; Whether or not the lover realises it, the presence of the sun allows for him to keep sight of his lover, thus the power of his eclipse is entirely ironic, as it would defeat the purpose of his motives. The last few lines of this stanza finish with a rhyming couplet, and summate his boastful argument in saying that All here in one bed lay. He means that all the wealth and greatness of the earth the sun sawst are equalled in the power of his love and the greatness of his lover. The mention of spice and mine refers to the luxuries that in Donnes time came from the great subcontinents or thIndias (spice may add a sexual element). This allusion to knowledge again creates an arrogant tone the lover juxtaposes those great material objects against the sun.


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In the final stanza the lovers tone of superiority and unwavering praise continues. Shes all states, and all princes, I, Nothing else is. Here the vanity of his appraisals is seen when he places even himself under the lover he so adores it becomes clear that his speech is solely for his own personal gain. All honours mimic, all wealth alchemy. This allusion to alchemy is one of Donnes poetic fascinations. He likens life outside love to the bizarre belief that one could change base metals in to precious metals such as gold. This theory was obviously proven false by the time Donne had written this poem and thus again we see the dismissal of the worlds people, adding to the egoistical and arrogant tone already seen. In the last four lines of the poem the attitude of the lover changes toward the sun Thine age asks ease,...Shine here to us, The lover has finally combined the two contradictory elements in his mind, the sun and his lover. The rhyming couplet at the finish still leaves a taste of arrogance in the readers mouth yet, some satisfaction seems to be drawn in the conclusion ...and thou art everywhere; The lover notes that within the small confines of his sphere all that the sun praises and lights up exists.





The structure of the poem (as critics have the knowledge of everything) is relevant to the message of the poem. The rhyme scheme and line formation create the feel when reading that there exists two sides of the poem. The first is either criticism or justification of this criticism, these lines are shortest and contain eight to ten syllables, this effect creates the dismissive mood and tone that assist Donne in his conceit against the sun. The second side is that of either praise, or justification of that praise. These lines are noticeably longer than the first type and contain either ten or eleven syllables. The lover uses these longer lines to make his better argumentative points against the sun and to nicely finalise each stanza with a rhyming couplet. The final rhyming couplet is thus significant as it combines the two sides of the argument to unite the lover and the sun within these walls he finds himself.





In conclusion, The Sunne Rising proves to be an insightful poem, typical of Donnes style and technique, which teaches the reader and seemingly the narrator a lesson about love, and the power it has. Donnes use of the conceit with the sun as opposed to love is a brilliant technique aided by the use of tone and structure, creating a wholly satisfying read. The separation and eventual combination of these two elements also assists to raise the points covered and raised by Donne.





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