Compare The Treatment In The Poems ‘Sonnet 18’ And ‘The Sun Rising’
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1252
- Category: Poems
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In ‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne, the poet is awakened by the sun’s rays streaming through the curtains into his bedroom, where he lies with his lover. Wishing to prolong (to lengthen in duration) the pleasure of lying in, cuddled beside her, he tells the Sun not to disturb the peace of the bedroom. The fact that the Sun’s other duties are, amongst others, to wake “late schoolboys” and “call country ants to harvest offices” suggests that the day is already well established, and the poet must soon accept to part from his lover’s embrace.
But love, he argues, is not ruled by time or the natural order, and is quite independent of them, and therefore he is annoyed that the Sun should meddle in the affairs of lovers and cause this parting: “Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. ” Indeed, in the second and third stanzas, Donne questions the natural order, and claims that the love between himself and his girl is superior to the Sun’s, and all other rulers’, power:
He can “eclipse and cloud” the Sun’s beams “with a wink”, and his lover’s eyes will blind the Sun, so beautiful are they. In short, he concludes, the lovers’ embrace is the real centre of the Sun, and only they two are important in the world: “Since thy duties be To warm the world, that’s done in warming us. Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere. ” In the first stanza, a “busy old fool”, a “saucy pedantic wretch” and for being “unruly”, and is angrily told that his services are not required.
It is clear that this anger is tongue-in-cheek, however, by the light-hearted descriptions of the Sun: its desire to shine sunbeams through the curtains into the bedroom reveal the Sun’s “saucy” sexy act, and its regularity in time-keeping is “pedantic”. In the second and third stanzas, this arrogance develops into a certain arrogance and confidence in the power of the love between the poet and his lover, but the playful, trivial overtone remains, as if acknowledging that, in questioning the power of the Sun and all the kingdoms of the Earth, the poet is taking on quite a force.
The bizarre imagery of the Indias and all the kings lying in the one bed increases this sense of playfulness. Nevertheless, this love is shown to be quite special: Thou, sun, art half as happy as we. The assertion that the Sun actually shines from the lovers’ bed, and not from somewhere in the heavens, is remarkably arrogant, though again somewhat jocular. The vast imagery adopted throughout is a measure of the poet’s awe and amazement at such a powerful bond of love.
The woman lying in bed beside him, for whom this poem is really destined, cannot help but feel flattered by such strong emotions. The poem is, in fact, destined to the poet’s lover, and by pretending to address the Sun and not the woman, Donne is declaring his love in a refreshing, and therefore more striking and flattering way. In addition, the poet is approaching the Sun from an entirely new direction: the lyrical, traditional Sun is a great being, worshipped by all for bringing light to the world and for being so powerful.
The cheeky challenge to this authority, mirrored by a challenge to all the kingdoms of the Earth, is entirely original and leaves the reader taken aback: this love must be quite something for the poet to feel himself the measure of the Sun, and to be ready to protect this love against such powerful opposition. Here, the woman to whom this poem is really addressed thinks, is a man whose love is genuine and whose motives are noble; what’s more, he has a sense of humour. The jocular tone of the poem and its use of mocking imagery was a refreshing change from the terribly serious love poetry that characterised the seventeenth century.
The extensive flattery would have been much appreciated, and the irreverent, joyful mood of the poem would coincide well with the lover’s own mood. However, its originality would make it more striking and memorable. Because it is successful with regards to its target audience, but also to the lay reader, the poem is shown to be a good one. Some people would be offended by the arrogance and insolence shown by the poet, but in general, it must be appreciated that the poem does not take itself seriously, and this is refreshing after so many weighty, and sometimes heavy-handed, love poems.
Sonnet 18 focuses on the beauty of the young man, and how beauty fades, but his beauty will not because it will be remembered by everyone who reads this poem. Shakespeare starts the poem with a metaphoric question in line one asking if he should compare the man to a summer’s day. This asks if he should compare the beauty of a summer’s day to the beauty of the young man about whom Shakespeare is writing. Line two of this poem states “Thou art more lovely and more temperate. ” Temperate is used as a synonym for moderate by the author.
In line two the speaker is describing the man as more lovely and more moderate than a summer’s day. This emphasizes the man’s beauty and how the man is viewed by the speaker. Line three, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,” tells why the man’s beauty is greater than that of a summer’s day. Shakespeare uses “rough winds” to symbolize imperfections. The speaker is implying that there are no imperfections in the young man, but there are in the summer, so the man cannot be compared to a summer’s day.
In line four the speaker adds to this thought by saying that the summer also does not last as long as the man’s beauty therefore it cannot be compared to it. Line five states another imperfection of the summer. Shakespeare uses “the eye of heaven” as a metaphor in this line to describe the sun. In line six Shakespeare uses the phrase “gold complexion dimmed” to describe the sun again which means that sometimes the sun is not hot enough, and that, as said in line five, sometimes the sun is too hot. In lines seven and eight the speaker ends the complication by describing how nature is never perfect.
Line nine starts the resolution of the poem by using the conjunction “but”. “Eternal summer” (line 9) is referring back to the man’s eternal beauty, using summer to symbolize beauty, and saying that the man’s beauty will never fail like the summer’s beauty. In lines ten, eleven, and twelve the speaker says that the man, “When in eternal lines to time thou growest” (line 12) or when he grows old, will not lose possession of what is fair to him, and “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade” (line 11) or he will not be poor in health and close to dying.
Lines thirteen and fourteen say that as long as this poem is read, the man’s beauty will never go away, because every time someone reads the poem they will be reminded of his beauty. This poem that Shakespeare wrote, describes how all beauty fades except for the man about whom Shakespeare is writing. Shakespeare makes use of much symbolism and many other figurative devices in this poem that contribute and emphasize to the overall theme of the poem.