“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?

“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)

“Alone” – A poem by Edgar Allan Poe

Context and Themes

Today I’m writing a little about Poe again and the poem “Alone”. This is one of Poe’s most wellknown and beloved poems and was never published during his liftime. It was probably written in 1829 and surfaced some years after his death in 1849. In September 1875, the poem, which had been in the possession of a family in Baltimore, was published with its title in Scribner’s Monthly. The editor, E. L. Didier, also reproduced a facsimile of the manuscript, though he admitted he added the date himself.

The lines contains a brief description of the narrator’s childhood and the secret world of a rather lonely child. Pay attention to the role of the narrator! His story is presented from an adult point of view and his reflexion upon childhood is done from a perspective which reveals he had already been through some crisis in his life. He reconnect the bad moments with the feelings of being different as a child. There is hint in this line: “Then—in my childhood—in the dawn Of a most stormy life—was drawn From ev’ry depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still—”

But will he solve the Mystery that binds him still? I doubt it. One wonders what kind of storms he had to go through but there are no revealing facts as the poem ends suddenly with a demon in his view.

Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were—I have not seen

As others saw—I could not bring

My passions from a common spring—

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow—I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone—

And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—

Then—in my childhood—in the dawn

Of a most stormy life—was drawn

From ev’ry depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still—

From the torrent, or the fountain—

From the red cliff of the mountain—

From the sun that ’round me roll’d

In its autumn tint of gold—

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass’d me flying by—

From the thunder, and the storm—

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view—

Sources

wikipedia.org

“When you are old” – A poem by William Butler Yeats

In this short post I wish to present a short poem by Irish poet and playwriter William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). He was born in Dublin and received an education in both Ireland and England. W.B Yeats rose to become one of the most prominent writers in the 20th Century. As the title goes old age and getting older is the main theme of this poem. Note the gently rhyme. It’s softspoken and calm. No storms. Getting older is associated with physical decay in this poem. It’s also a bit moralizing over Love. Take some time to figure out what goes on in the lines. There’s a narrator and a woman. What does he tell her?

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Sources

wikipedia.org