“The Good-Morrow” – A poem by John Donne

The british poet John Donne (1572-1631) was one the most well known poets of the Elizabetan age. He was also a part of the the Metaphysical school of English poets. This poem takes place in the married bed. Husband and wife are awake after a night of sleep and love. Donnes message is a bit deeper than just the physical love between the married couple.

Look what is happening in the second Stanza. It starts with the line “And now good-morrow to our waking souls”…John Donne simply states that love is more than our physical bodies. We are souls as well. Pay some attention to the religious references: The story of the Seven Sleepers is present. Which function does it play here?

Themes: Love, the beloved, waking up in the morning

The Good-Morrow

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

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.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

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“Hope is a thing with feathers” — A poem by Emily Dickinson

Gently and softspoken, Emily Dickinson expresses her thoughts about hope and compares it to “the thing” with feathers. Notice how careful she is with the words. How does she describe hope? It’s more like a tune which can’t be seen. What does the narrator reveal about the tune? Where can it be heard?

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

“Love’s Philosophy” — A poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Here are a few lines of encouraging thoughts about love. The poet is Percy B. Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) who lived in the era of Romanticism. Look how he uses the theme of Nature in these few lines. The message of love, unity and comradeship can be found in the following verse: “Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine?—”

The poem was first published by the newspaper The Indicator (1819) and in 1824 two years after Shelley’s drowning accident.

Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle.

Why not I with thine?—

.

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth

And the moonbeams kiss the sea:

What is all this sweet work worth

If thou kiss not me?

“Invictus” a poem by William Ernest Henley

This is a poem to all of you who feel low and suffering from a poor self esteem and illness. But even if pain is present there is hope. The poet is W.E Henley (1849-1903) and he was in the hospital having his leg amputated as these lines came to him. It’s about the human spirit overcoming the deepest of pain and inner troubles. It ends with the following promising lines: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

“The New Colossus” – A poem by Emma Lazarus

Context and themes

This poem was written by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) and is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. It was written in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. But it was soon forgotten and played no role at the opening of the statue in 1886.

The poem is constructed after the Petrarchan sonnet. Pay attention to the historical and mythological references throughout the poem.

The title of the poem and the first two lines refer to the Colossus of Rhodes, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, sometimes described as standing astride the harbor.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Sources

wikipedia.org

“Fire and Ice” – A poem by Robert Frost

Today I present a short poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963). “Fire and Ice” is one of his most wellknown poems. It was first published in December 1923. It’s also included in the novel New Hampshire-A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. Pay attention to his use of metaphors! Can you identify them? It also contains dualism, love and hate and classical symbols of these. There is also a biblical reference to the Apocalypse and the End of the world. Who is the Narrator? What is the message?

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Sources

wikipedia.org

William Shakespeare – Sonett 26

Sonett 26 is a typical Shakespeare sonett and consists of three quattrains ending with a couplet. The sonett is adressed to Cupid and shows some influences from the roman poet Ovid. Love is the major theme. The rhyme scheme is as follows: abab cdcd efef gg.

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage (a)

Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit, (b)

To thee I send this written ambassage, (a)

To witness duty, not to show my wit: (b)

Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine (c)

May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it, (d)

But that I hope some good conceit of thine (c)

In thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it;(d)

Till whatsoever star that guides my moving, (e)

Points on me graciously with fair aspect,(f)

And puts apparel on my tatter’d loving,(e)

To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:(f)

Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee; (g)

Till then not show my head where thou mayst prove me.(g)