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John Donne: The Sun Also Rises

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Essay title: John Donne: The Sun Also Rises

Donne seems to consciously ignore conventional measures of rhyme and meter and poetic beauty. His language is direct and like a conversation instead of a typical verse, in which his verse is full of dissonance.

Critics of John Donne's "The Sun Rising" often note that the poem's displacement of the outside world in favor of two lovers' inner world serves to support its overall theme, which is the centrality of human love through a permanent physical universe (Otto). However, critics have stated that this poem must not be taken literally. Rather, Donne's placement of the outside world, in favor of the lovers' inside "microcosm," is a rhetorical technique used to argue for the strength and energy of mutual love (Otto). Donne is still unsuccessful at convincing readers that internal love can symbolically replace the physical world if logic is inferior to language. This persona establishes several oppositions that favor a certain hierarchy within the structures he creates. As the poem progresses, however, he begins to misspeak, forgetting the earlier language used. “The poem dismantles itself through the inherent contradictions of the persona's rhetoric, leaving the reader unconvinced that language permits love to transcend the outside world” (Otto).

In the first stanza of "The Sun Rising," Donne's speaker creates several oppositions that show the poem's argument that love exists independently from and superior to the physical world. The oppositions presented are confinement versus openness and eternity versus a momentary instance. In relation to confinement versus openness, the speaker objects to the sun's intrusion "Through windows" and "through curtains" (3). Windows and curtains separate him and his lover from the outside world, from the knowledge that their love exists within an ordinary, physical reality. If the "Busy [and] unruly" sun permeates through the window, these methods of exclusion it will challenge his desired confinement, disables his love as it intrudes upon his room. His reasoning leads into the other significant opposition of the poem's introduction: eternity vs. momentariness. The "lovers' seasons" are placed against the sun's seasons, and the narrator's tone suggests his efforts to subordinate everyday, natural motions to ceaseless love. He continues, "Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, / Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time" (9-10). All in all, the introductory stanza of "The Sun Rising" reveals the persona's motive to engage in mutual love within a confined realm that is free from the time constraints of the physical universe.

While in the first stanza the persona declares the physical world's inferiority to love, he also suggests the social sphere's necessary absence from his microcosm. He rhetorically pushes the sun away, telling it to "go chide / Late schoolboys, and sour prentices, / Go tell court-huntsmen, that the king will ride" (5-7). In reality, the sun is commanded to seek these individuals because its search will render the persona free from its "motions." Yet he also demands the sun to pursue these people because he knows its "chid[ing]" and "tell[ing]" will keep them away from his room. The first stanza, then, presents a figurative opposition to everything in the outside world, from the sun and the "ants" to children and the king, in order to convince the audience that the language of love is capable of consummating this act.

However, into the second stanza the narrator seems to forget the love ideals that he is seeking. In particular, his celebration of love's eternity versus his condemnation of the outside world's momentariness loses its potency, because he is unable to escape time constraints even through the use of language. "I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, / But that I would not lose her sight so long" (13-14). By closing his eyes, he excludes the external world from his internal world of love. This expression is still convincing, because readers can understand that the eye acts like the window of the first stanza, separating an internal sphere from the outside sphere; the "wink,” the curtain, prevents the sun from intruding. However, readers cannot be convinced that the narrator continues to support the ideal of love's eternity. Besides

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