John Donne’s “The Sun Rising” is certainly not a typical love poem. The poet uses imagery, structure and omission to indicate the egocentricity of the lovers. Through the use of these devices, the poet persona is attempting to convince the reader that the private world of lovers is superior to the wider public world. Through imagery, the poet is able to convey the lovers” feelings of superiority. The expected sentiment toward the sun would normally be that of adoration and worship. The sun brings life; everything is dependent on it.
When the sun is personified, as it is in this poem, it is usually so that the people on Earth can idolize it. However, in this case, the sun is portrayed as an antagonist. An idol is not usually described with words such as “busy old fool unruly” (1). By using such unpleasant adjectives to relate to the sun, the lovers must automatically appear outstanding in comparison. The structure of the poem is also used to indicate the egoism of the lovers. The perfect construction can be seen by the rhyme scheme and the amount of syllables. There is a set rhyme scheme that is followed through the whole poem: ABBACDCDEE.Order now
There is also a set amount of syllables per line: 8, 4, 10, 10, 8, 8, 10, 10, 10, 10. Although it is difficult to understand a passion that can be structured or tamed, the reader is lulled into accepting it and enjoying the organization. It is when the poet strays from this pattern that the seeming precision is called into question. Line 25 jolts the reader because it breaks the pattern: it has an extra syllable. “Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,” (25) would initially appear to be an ordinary love-sick statement that belongs in a love poem.
The extra syllable in “happy” causes the reader to question the poet persona’s true happiness. If someone is truly happy, it is unnecessary to point out his or her emotion to others. In the case of a poem, the feeling should leap off the page through the mood of the piece. Instead the overwhelming sentiment ranges from anger to mocking to self-centred. In the first stanza, the sun causes the lovers to feel anger towards it. They are annoyed that they must be awakened to deal with their actions. This resentment is shown by the use of “Saucy pedantic wretch” (5).
The poet persona is saying that the sun is a disrespectful, conscienceless person who enjoys watching the lovers” suffering. When the sun appears, “must to motions lovers” seasons run” (4). All those surprised by the sun’s arrival feel guilt and therefore hide from the initiator of this feeling. The poet persona then tells the sun to leave the lovers alone: “go chide / Late schoolboys and sour prentices, / Go tell court huntsmen that the King will ride, / Call country ants to harvest offices” (5-8).
He would rather that the sun is making others feel guilty for their tardiness, their inferior skill at hunting, or their procrastination at working on their farm, than arousing his own sensitivities. He also seems to feel that he has some superiority over the sun. In the second stanza the tone becomes more mocking. If the sun is so remarkable to have beams that are “reverend and strong” (11), then how is it that the poet persona can “eclipse and cloud them with a wink” (13)? His lover is outstanding in comparison to the sun because while he may be able to block out the sun’s beams, the sun would be “blinded” (15) by her eyes.
Despite the fact that the sun will travel around the world, able to see all sorts of exotic locations, such as “India” (17) the “kings” (19), referring to the lovers, will still be in bed. The poet is trying to assume some control over the sun. In the third stanza the self-centred nature becomes overwhelming. While referring to himself and his lover the poet persona says, “She is all states, and all princes I, / Nothing else is. / Princes do but play us” (21-23). They are more important than all the other countries and royalty.
In fact, these seemingly important people are simply trying to mimic the lovers. The sun is also assumed to be elderly: “Thine age asks ease” (27) which relates this situation to teenagers and parents. The young persons feel that because of the significant age difference, their parents do not understand them. This is the case with the lovers. It was believed that the sun revolved around the Earth, but the lovers take this belief one step further: they believe that their bed is the centre of the universe. The sun revolves around them: “This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere” (30).
Another indication of the superiority of the lovers is that the poet persona tells the reader almost nothing about the girl, but rather focuses on how the private world of lovers somehow obliterates the rest of the world. The only direct comment about the female is that regarding her eyes blinding the sun (15), and this statement is only made to assert authority over the sun. The rest of the humanity is unimportant when compared to the lovers. They tell the sun “Since thy duties be / To warm the world, that’s done in warming us. Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere” (27-29).
They believe that they are representative of all other life on the planet. By following their commands, the sun is truly doing what is best for Earth. Even all the power and riches are unnecessary in contrast to the lovers: “all honor’s mimic, all wealth alchemy” (24). The lovers” embodiment of all humanity is especially significant because of the lack of description of the female. Through the use of language, poetic structure, and omission, the poet is able to convey an impression of the lovers” complete authority. The relationship between the lovers must somehow embody the whole world.