Poems are a great way to convey a message or provide a visual of a story in a compact text. For example, consider the following text:
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
The text above is authored by John Donne which was published in 1633, and the text is titled: “The Good-Morrow”. I firmly believe that this text has elements that make a poem and let us see how those criteria for a text to be a poem gets fulfilled. I will refer above text as The Good Morrow from now on where needed for the rest of the context.
Usually, the poems have 14 lines with first eight lines forming a stanza and the remaining six lines drawing a conclusion. Here, the text comprises of 21 lines with three stanzas, each containing seven lines – or sestet – which is a little different than common structure of poems. Each stanza delivers a meaning, indicating a phase of love. The first stanza in The Good Morrow describes the first phase as the finding of love or the life before love. Here the speaker, mentions that anything past the night the speaker spent together with his lady love was like a childish play and a mere fancy which he deems worthless. He was trying to find true beauty and now that he has found that beauty in his beloved woman, he feels he has now actually found what he longed for.
The second stanza of The Good Morrow goes on to describe the second phase of love where both lovers find themselves awaken in true love and they have no fear or jealousy as now they are in real love, the spiritual love. In this new spiritual world of love, the lovers are finding themselves as complete, and they have moved past the love in the material world and things. Anything past the room they live in with each other now don’t attract them as that room is now the only world they want to live in, which for them is the world of love and discoveries.
In the third, final, stanza of The Good Morrow comes the last phase of love: the eternal immortality of love. In this phase, the lovers have a bond developed so strong that they feel the true love in each other’s eyes and heart, and that mutual love would remain united and would cross any boundaries which even death would not be able to end.
It is clear that the text does a good job of conveying a really great message in a very compact structure of merely 21 lines. The Good Morrow conveys the message: the true love is what you feel inside. A poem usually conveys a message, direct or hidden, in a short text of information. Through the description of the three phases of love outlined in the text, it can be identified that there is only one speaker describing personal feelings very strongly, and thus the text qualifies to be considered as a lyric poetry. Furthermore, although the text is not 14 lines like a usual poem, and has 21 lines; it still follows pattern that Sonnets follow where the line ends with a word that forms a consistent pattern with an alternating line. For instance, look at the third stanza in the poem: The lines one and three end with words “appears” and “hemispheres” respectively, lines two and four end with words “rest” and “west” respectively, and then lines five, six and seven ends with words “equally”, “I” and “die” respectively. This forms a consistent sound pattern at the end of lines which would be identified as a pattern A-B-A-B-C-C-C, and thus this text gives us an impression that it can qualify to be a Sonnet; however since the poem is 21 lines some would argue that it does not meet the basic criteria of a sonnet for text to be 14 lines following the pattern A-B-A-B.
A distinct rhyming scheme is an essential element of the poem. The text opens with a line that gets the attention and then develops the theme as it goes on. Each line in a stanza of The Good Morrow has 8 to 12 syllables and clearly the lines tie together with the alternating line in stanza. Most lines have 10 syllables in the text with every stanza having a line with 12 syllables. Not only this, each stanza follows a quatrain like structure. Further, it is interesting that since the stanzas in the text contains a sestet on every line, the stanzas mix the structure of a quatrain and a triplet. The Good Morrow, as explained above, has the third stanza following a consistent rhyming pattern that at the end forms the pattern A-B-A-B-C-C-C. This is same with the first and second stanza. Hence, it can be firmly said that the text has a consistent rhyming scheme that is distinct. With this in consideration, the text does qualify to follow a distinct rhyming scheme that a poem should essentially follow.
Lastly, the stanzas in this text are formed a little differently than the poems in the sense that each stanza uses first four lines to describe something and uses the remaining three lines to describe a strong conclusion. This text uses the sound pattern “Assonance” as in rhyming the text sounds pretty sweet. However, the tone in the text is informal, intimate and light. This makes me understand that the text does have a good sound pattern like the poem.
Considering the Good Morrow has a genre – lyric poetry, a rhyming scheme and a sound pattern, in my opinion The Good Morrow can be claimed to be a poem. It can be argued whether this text can be considered a sonnet or not, however it cannot be denied that the text is a great poem by John Donne.