The Sunne Rising
Busie olde foole, unruly Sunne;
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us?
Must to they motions lovers seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
Call countrey ands to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine
Looke, and tomorrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the India's of spice and Myne
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.
She'is all States, and all Princes, I,
Nothing else is;
Princes doe but play us; compar'd to this,
All honor's mimique; All wealth alchimie,
Thou sunne art halfe as happy'as wee,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine ages askes ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.
Through the Poem
- unruly Sunne – the poet has been woken by the Sun. Donne shocks from the start – the first line conveys arrogance and rudeness, but it is directed at the Sun.
- sowre – bad-tempered. In these few lines Donne puts the sun in its place – its job is with the boring, bad-tempered, ordinary people, not with the lovers. Note that the lovers are already at a celestial level at this stage – they are above the “countrey ants” the poet refers to.
- There is a change of attitude in this stanza. Wheres in stanza 1 Donne was annoyed and arrogant, now he gets insulting and grandiose. He attacks the popular notion of the strong, powerful sunshine by pointing out that he can cut the Sun out of his life merely by closing his eyes.
- However, even with this arrogance, he is forced to admit that without the Sun, he would not be able to see his lover. And here his attitude begins to change again – through the rest of the stanza it becomes less antagonistic towards the Sun and more complimentary to his lover and their situation together.
- …and tomorrow late… – a very unsubtle hint that the Sun gets up too early.
- the India's of Spice and Myne – ie, the East and West Indias. This is the beginning of a conceit that lasts the rest of the poem – Donne and his lover, and the room they are in, expand to become the whole world – at least, they have by the last stanza. In these two lines Donne says his lover is the East and West Indias – in Donne's day, the source of the world's most precious materials: spices, metals, and jewels.
- The conceit continues. The first two lines imply that the lovers are every country, every where. There is also “conqueror / conquered” imagery here – where the Prince has completely control of his country, and the country submits to him.
- Princes doe but play us…All wealth alchimie – Everything is false, apart from Donne and his lover.
- Thine age askes ease… – the tone is arrogant but playful. Donne decides that the Sun must be tired continually journeying around the world – and since the rest of the world is false, there's really no need to. To illuminate the only true, real world, the Sun need only shine in the room containing Donne and his lover.
- Direct address is used, as is common in Donne poetry, in the first stanza.
- Conceits used:
- Lover's bedroom becomes the world: This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare
Imagery and Learning
- India's of Spice and Myne
- Use of Sun-related imagery
- Reuses the notion of “Hundreds of Petrachan and Elizabethan poems” that the “Sun is the touchstone of ecstatic tribute”
- “The exaggeration of language mimics the assurance of love”
- “Every insult to the Sun is a compliment to his mistress.”
- Note the movement of the poem. In Stanza 1, Love and the Sun are separate. By Stanza 3, Donne has joined the two – love and the Sun are one and the same. The poem also becomes more intellectual as it advances – possibly as the speaker and his lover wake up! However, this “intellectuality” also, ironically, takes the poem from the plausible to the ridiculous. A simple way to examine the movement of this poem is to examine the first lines of each stanza.
- Busie olde foole, unruly Sunne
- Thy beames, so reverend and strong,
Why should'st thou thinke?
- She'is all States, and all Princes, I
- Busie olde foole, unruly Sunne
- Note the constant use of Sun-related imagery: “Eclipse and cloud” in stanza 2, “these walls, thy spheare” in Stanza 3. The “spheare” is significant – circles and spheares were considered the perfect shapes. By the last word of the last stanza, Donne, his love, and the Sun are united.
- There is a very sensual aspect to this poem: the glow of the sun, the extremes of conceit, perhaps an element of a sexual boast with “All here in one bed lay” in stanza 2.