The Sun Rising (The Sunne Rising) Summary
The Speaker gets angry at the old sun for disturbing his lovely moment with his lover and casting his light on them. At first, he admonishes the sun later he says that their bed is the earth and their room his sphere. By shining on them he doesn’t need to go anywhere else. Thus he reduces his task of spreading its light everywhere into a small room.
The Sun Rising (The Sunne Rising)
The speaker of The Sun Rising is sleeping peacefully with his lover on the bed. After the dawn, the sun comes from the horizon to spread its light and joy all over the world.
But the poet is not happy with the sun. Because he thinks the appearance of the sun at the window is for him an act of intrusion. He feels threatened by the sun’s presence.
As a lover, he does not want anyone to disturb his lovely moment. Therefore the poet starts rebuking the sun and addresses the sun as an old, unruly. He scolds the sun for disturbing them through the windows and curtains.
The reversal of roles
In Donne poetry, either mighty celestial body like sun or abstract idea like death are personified and depicted as powerless. Here in the poem Sun is personified as a person who is old and unruly. The Speaker addresses the sun as unruly, instead of saying punctual. The sun is one who can blind others but here the speaker says that his beloved can blind him.
The poem “The Sun Rising” is an aubade. Unlike the other aubade, the speaker neither greets nor laments the dawn rather he scolds the sun. The sun rising is an indication of the beginning of the day, the end of their union.
Though the lovers the speaker doesn’t need to move anywhere the act of the sun rising will eventually separate the two lovers from the bed after a night of passion. The lover does not want the time of togetherness to come to an end. Therefore he becomes irritated and lambasts the sun for trying to waking them up.
He addresses the sun as saucy, pedantic. He says instead of disturbing them, he should go and chide the schoolboys that they would be late and sour apprentices who are probably disappointed with their master and are still in bed.
He should also go to the huntsmen to get ready because the king will go into hunting and the farmers to collect their harvest.
They are supposed to follow their daily tasks. On the other hand, the love between the speaker and his ladylove is not time-bounded. Love surpasses time. They are free from the cycle of time that consists of hours, days, and months. Therefore there is no need for sun there in the room.
In the first stanza, the poet introduces the world of the poet and his beloved that is not affected by the time. On the other, he also shows the materialistic world which is consisted of schoolboys, apprentices, huntsmen, farmers, and kings.
The latter world is full of activities, and according to the speaker, the sun is supposed to be outside not inside the world of lovers, the space of the lovers. He thinks being with his ladylove is the most important thing for him.
In the second stanza, the speaker questions the sun why he thinks that others respect him and he is powerful.
He subordinates the sun’s power and says that the sun is powerless in front of him because the speaker can eclipse the sun with a wink. However, he would do that because he cannot stay for long without looking at his beloved.
Moreover, he makes the sun inferior by stating that his lover’s eyes are brighter than the sun. This is another paradox/reverse of the role.
If her eyes have not blinded him, then he asks the sun to come tomorrow lately to ensure whether the spice from India and gold from West Indies he left them are here in the bed or not.
He also asks the sun to ask those kings that he saw the day before and then all of them will say that they are right here in the bed.
After that, the speaker makes a bold statement that his ladylove is all the states and he is the prince of all states.
This is a metaphysical conceit in the poem. The lover’s body is compared to the states that England captured during the rise of colonialism.
The way a male lover enjoys being authoritative over his beloved’s body. Similarly, a king also enjoys and is assertive toward the possession of his states. Based on the similarity of the attitude of both men toward their possession, the woman and the states become a space of enjoyment for the male’s dominance and a matter of pride for both of them.
The authoritativeness of the relationship is indicated by the silence of the lady. Moreover, his superiority is also shown as he does not give any chance to the sun to respond.
Moreover, Renaissance humanists believe that the human body is a microcosm of the world. Therefore the lover’s body is representative of all the states.
In the second stanza, the speaker wants the sun to shift his focus from the outer world to his room. In his room, his beloved’s eyes are more dazzling than the sun. He ensures that the sun will find everything, the spices and mines and all the kings of the states. Everything and everyone is contracted to a small room.
In the third stanza, the speaker tells the sun in a tone of authority that all princes imitate them. In comparison to this, all honor is imitation and all wealth is less worthy.
Here the speaker for a moment becomes sympathetic toward the sun as an old man, he needs to work with ease and it is his duty to warm the world.
So he suggests the sun that since the sun’s duty is to warm the world, therefore the speaker tells him by warming them his job is done.
By shining here in their room his beams will be everywhere. Their bed is his center and the walls his sphere.
This is another metaphysical conceit. The bed is compared to the earth and the walls to routes of the sun respectively.
As he has already mentioned that all the states, the kings, the natural resources are here in one bed. This becomes his world. He also believes that except this there are no states.
From a typical colonizer’s point of view, it is true. The colonizers had the notion that outside England there is no state or region. Since all the states are here in one bed it is a replica of the earth.
In the last stanza, not only the outside world is contracted to the lover’s world but also the universe. As a metaphysical poet, Donne here shows his awareness of the prevalent idea of the universe. He holds to the Ptolemic view of the universe that the sun revolves around the other planets including the earth. Therefore he asks the sun to revolve the bed.
He thinks that shining on them would be enough for others. They are the ones who deserved the light and need to be served. The sun as an obedient man is advised not to go anywhere.
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K.Nayar, Pramod. Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory. India: Pearson, 2018.