Valentine Poem: "The Sun Rising" by John Donne

Aubade is a fancy French word for poems about lovers driven apart by the dawn. Just in case you might not get it, John Donne (1572-1631) titles his exemplar "The Sun Rising."  And boy, does it rouse.  He rebukes the heck out of the big star, calling it old and foolish and commanding it elsewhere. Using the sun as his foil, Donne exalts love and the lover in his bed above everything else: nature, time, power, and riches. The poem's a wonderful celebration of bliss in sheets, when "Nothing else is."

The Sun Rising
by John Donne

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school boys and sour prentices,
  Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
  Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them in a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
If her eye hath no blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
   Whether both th'Indias of spice and mine
   Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

She's all states, and all princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus.
  Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
  To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou are everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.


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