John Donne's The Sun Rising Essay example

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John Donne's The Sun Rising

Critics of John Donne's "The Sun Rising" often note that the poem's displacement of the outside world in favor of two lovers' inner world serves to support its overall theme: the centrality of human love amidst a permanent physical universe. In an essay entitled "John Donne," Achsah Guibbory supports this reading of the poem, stating, "The world of love contains everything of value; it is the only one worth exploring and possessing. Hence the microcosmic world of love becomes larger and more important than the macrocosm" (135). "[T]he lovers' room," Toshihiko Kawasaki observes similarly, "is a microcosm because it is private and self-contained, categorically excluding the outer world" (29). As evident in
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Hyperbole may lack the power to change the external physical world; still it changes the private world of the lovers, a world of emotion and experience that proves stubbornly resistant to logic, though marvelously—miraculously—open to language. (241)

Indeed, this analysis is valid if readers assume with Baumlin that while the poem's logic operates inadequately, its rhetoric works "miraculously." But, is the persona's reliance on language to transcend the physical world able to succeed? Or, does the language of "The Sun Rising," like the logic, fail to communicate the theme that many scholars have recognized?

The rhetoric of Donne's persona does seem, upon a first reading, to locate the lovers at the center of the universe successfully while it subordinates all surrounding objects. And the poet's use of hyperbole is convincing enough if readers immediately assume that Donne intended to oppose logic and to define the universe's purpose through the transcendent qualities of language. Yet the inconsistencies in rhetoric that the poem manifests, what one scholar has deemed "a tangle of contradictions and reversals," make this commonly accepted interpretation unstable (Brown 110). While Donne's speaker may dislocate the outside world only for the extent of "The Sun Rising," he is still unsuccessful at convincing critical readers that internal love can symbolically replace the
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