The Sun Rising
seems to be written with a certain comic tongue-in-cheek arrogance
. In this apostrophic poem
demonstrates the greatness of the love
between him and his partner
by contemptuously dismissing the sun
, telling it to attend to more important matters than disturbing him.
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
The suggestion is that to Donne’s persona
, the lover, nothing in the physical world can be as important or as powerful as the emotion
al bond between the couple. Although The Sun Rising
makes no distinction between the physical and the spiritual in their relationship, their love as a whole certainly seems more significant than anything outside of his bedroom
. He makes this point clear in the third stanza.
She'is all states, and all princes I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compar'd to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Noticeable in these lines are the full stop
s – there are only a few in the poem as a whole, so it adds a strong feeling of definitiveness and finality to the phrase “nothing else is”. This extract also highlights what modern readers would view as sexism
– his lover is “all states”, inanimate and subject to his control in his role as “all princes”.
It is possible to identify different themes in each of the stanzas. The first establishes the persona’s humorous contempt
for the sun, explains that it is disturbing him and his lover, and makes the point that love “no season knows” – he desires that they be left alone
. He elaborates in the second stanza by discussing the beauty of his partner and suggests that they are indeed more powerful than the sun, although hints that he does in fact want the sunlight
so he can see the woman
. The third stanza emphasises the importance of love, specifically his love. He says that to him all there is to the world is his love. As such, he has changed his mind, and tells the sun to shine on to them; if it does, it will as far as he is concerned be shining on the whole world. Whereas earlier the suggestion was that their love was more important than the world, now the world’s riches (e.g. in the second stanza “the Indias of spice and mine”) are a metapho
r for their love.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls thy sphere.
The poem employs a degree of irony
. In addition to the grand statement that something that only exists between two people could be more important than the Sun, in the first stanza he patronise
s it (“Busy old fool, unruly Sun”) significant given the traditional view one might have of the sun as a symbol
of power, or a great force. He goes on to do the same at the start of the second stanza, referring to its “reverend and strong” beams in a sarcastic tone. The implication
that him and his love are stronger than the sun is furthered when he cleverly points out that he could “eclipse and cloud” the beams with something so casual as a wink. By the end of the poem Donne has, in a manner reminiscent of his changing argument in The Flea
, decided that rather than leave them alone, the sun ought to shine on the lovers, for the material riches outside of his bedroom are not insignificant, but significant only in his mind as symbolic of the greatness of their love. The point he effectively seems to be making is that his love makes him rich spiritual
Each stanza starts with the rhyme scheme
ABBACDCD and end with a rhyming couplet
(EE) resulting in a satisfying ending to each verse
, which helps highlight the thematic progression between them. Appropriate for the fairly complex
rhyme scheme, the poem uses a complex metre
, with a varied pace for each line. The end consequence is a sophisticated but flowing poem that allows Donne to apparently change his mind without this being to jarring to the reader.