Updated: Mar 31, 2022
The poem, ‘The Sun Rising’, typical of John Donne, was published in 1633. The poem is explicit that it could have been written for his beloved Anne. He uses several metaphors and has personified the Sun. He brags that his love is pure and everything comprising the whole earth is confined in them. With his ironic verses, the author claims to be more authoritative than the Sun itself.
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
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;
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
She's all states, and all princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus.
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.
The Sunrays peep into their room through windows and reach into the curtains. This feels like the Sun does this intentionally to ruin the lover’s emotional season. Instead, the author feels like the sun could go bother boys that are late to school or the other hunter men in the court, or the peasants to focus on harvesting what they cultivated.
According to the author, love stays consistently the same even with the changing seasons. The author, who is so tired of the Sun interrupting them, tries to persuade with some subtle notes. The beams of the Sun trying to intervene in the moments of the lovers are so majestic. The author thinks that anyone would think of this way. He wants to close his eyes that the beams are potentially blinding the vision. But, he does not want his eyes to be engaged in activities other than being fixed on his beloved. He thinks that even the Sun could go blind by her brightening eyes.
The Sun goes around looking through the East of India, the land of spices, and the West of Indies, the land of mines. The author exhibits so much pride in letting the Sun decide if it wants to go roam or stay with him. Because anything the Sun goes for searching could be found in the author’s room. Even if it goes around searching for the Kings of the lands it saw the other day, it could be found lying in the bed with him.
The Sun could be ruling the world by bringing light onto the land. But the author feels as elite as a ruler for his lover is all the land on Earth. There is nothing else in the world, except for him and his beloved. Everything they want is under their feet in their room. As the Sun’s only duty is to warm the world, it might not have to travel across the world. Rather, shine all bright in his room so that the rest of the world confined in, could also be warmed.
Lowell, James Russell. The Poems of John Donne. Grolier Club. 1895
Parfitt, George A. E. John Donne: A Literary Life. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1989