Though many emphasize the philosophical and theological content of Donne’s poetry, his mastery of verbal wit and sound are on full display in these two lines. The heavy alliterative emphasis on the “w” sound in the first line works together with the internal rhyme, or assonance, of “we” and “weaned.” In the second line, Donne sets up on the level of semantics the lovers' life before love as a kind of infancy (since a child is “weaned” once they’re old enough to no longer rely on breastmilk), but at the same time he makes this connection in a figurative way with a kind of pun—as though "weaning" meant “becoming ‘we.’” The prominence of short “u,” “s,” and plosives such as the hard “c,” “b,” and “d” sounds in the next line also work to underline the sense of crude, worldly nature in what Donne is describing by means of the phrase “country pleasures.”
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
The power of these two lines relies on the complex interplay between verbal wit, meter, and syntax. One of the key features of the so-called “metaphysical poets,” of whom Donne is the major figure, was their (uncommon at the time) use of colloquial language and syntax. In the first line, Donne plays on two separate meanings of the word “love”; first as romantic love, then as generic “desire for” (the latter sense is no longer common in modern English). The syntax is best described as “latinate,” since the word order, placing the subject at the beginning and the verb it’s paired with at the very end, echoes the syntax of Latin and is uncommon in English. In contrast, the second line flows quite naturally—even its abstract metaphorical content appears in the language of everyday speech. It’s also important to note Donne’s use of meter; while both lines can be read as falling into iambic pentameter, the latter does so only if we read “everywhere” as two, rather than three, syllables. This leads to the feeling that the word, in a sense, is overflowing the line, thus enacting rhythmically the sense of the unfolding expansion of space created by love that Donne means to describe.
The Good-Morrow Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Good-Morrow is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.