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The Good-Morrow(1633)

John Donne

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
MeterI wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved: Were we not weaned till then?
MeterDid, till we loved: Were we not weaned till then?

Note on line 2: A trochee in the first foot of an iambic line is nearly unremarkable. But the performative wallop Donne packs into “Did” at the head of this one is extraordinary. It owes much to the easy rhythm of the open-voweled words in line 1, ambling towards Donne’s enjambment like somebody walking into a wall while chatting sideways.

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
MeterBut sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
MeterOr snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
Meter‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
MeterIf ever any beauty I did see,

Note on line 6: Nothing wrong with straight iambic scansion of this line. But the sly by-play between confident lovers has more fun with a stress on “did”: “Okay, so maybe I did fool around back then before I knew any better, i.e. before I met you.”

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

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
MeterAnd now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
MeterWhich watch not one another out of fear;

Note on line 9: Why not stress “not”? Because, as line 15 will show, the lovers are indeed gazing at each other. The point here, underscored by equable metrical rhythm, is that they’re doing so calmly, and not in fearful jealousy.

For love, all love of other sights controls,
MeterFor love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
MeterAnd makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
MeterLet sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,

Note on line 12: Scan “discoverers” as four syllables if you like. But realize this choice will commit you to an anapest in the third foot, where promoted stress on little “to” then chimes pretentiously with “new” in the following spondee. 4B4V deems elision (“discov’rers”) the path of virtue this time.

Let maps to others, worlds on worlds have shown,
MeterLet maps to others, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
MeterLet us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
MeterMy face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
MeterAnd true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
MeterWhere can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining West?
MeterWithout sharp north, without declining West?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
MeterWhatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
MeterIf our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.
MeterLove so alike that none do slacken, none can die.

Note on line 21: The mid-line rhyme of “none” with “one” just above it is as pretty as the perfect end-rhyme of “can die” with “and I” is just. The re-enjambment of “thou and I” after line 20 recalls what happened at the end of line 1; only now the tense is present and the deed is love.


Rhyme
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