The Good-Morrow #NationalPoetryDay

sun3The Good-Morrow was one of the first poems John Donne wrote for his 1633 collection ‘Songs and Sonnets’ whilst still a student at Lincoln’s Inn (one of the four Inns of Court for barristers in London). I studied this as a student at school and I often recall it in its entirety; its passion, sensuality, energy and overwhelming belief in life itself never fails to lift my spirits. Hope you feel the same. What poem has this effect you? 

John Donne





70 thoughts on “The Good-Morrow #NationalPoetryDay

  1. Phil Ryan

    This got me really thinking, Annika. Not being a big reader I had to jump in my time machine, garaged deep in my brain, and return to school. I studied The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner at A level – so we’ll skip past that (I’m still A level-less) and go for the Elf and the Dormouse from my younger years. I think the humour appealed to me so by the time I studied Coleridge, despite all that water everywhere, he was too dry for my taste.

    1. Phil, that’s a terrific poem – has me smiling; lovely sense of humour and a welcome additional to the more serious ‘heavy’ poetry. I think even this umbrella wouldn’t help in the tempests sweeping across Yorkshire this afternoon. How was the return to school in your time machine?! 😀😀

  2. Pingback: Precious Lives, Precious Poems – Annika Perry's Writing Blog

  3. Beautiful poem, and comments. I am going to jump in here where I usually would not. I am not a poet but I do like to read poetry. I do keep one poem handy and read it often.

    By: William Ernest Hindley

    Out of the night that covers me
    Black as the pit from pole to pole
    I thank whatever Gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul
    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winked or cried aloud.
    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid
    It matters not how straight the gate,
    How charged with punishments
    the scroll
    I am the master of my fate;
    I am the captain of my soul

    Thank you for letting me share this with you. :o)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this poem. I’ve never heard of it before but already love its sense of spirit and fortitude. So glad you ‘jumped’ in with this – I have enjoyed reading everyone’s suggestion and am in the process of collating them on a document which I hope to make available via my blog later.

    1. I remember when we started studying Donne and Keats at school and it was all like a foreign language which after a few lessons was unravelled and the outstanding beauty hidden beneath was revealed. To this day I’m thankful to the patience of our teachers!

  4. PeterR

    OK, a bit “gung-ho” perhaps, but when faced with certain disaster:

    “Then up spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate,
    “To every man upon this earth, Death cometh soon or late.
    and how can man die better, than facing fearful odds,
    for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods”


      1. PeterR

        I’ve always taken “bravery” and “heroism” as being when you have a choice between an action and a safer alternative. I guess Horatius could have chosen to stay behind the walls of the city, and fought it out there. The extract doesn’t give the full context. He and his followers chose to fight it out on the bridge over the Tiber, giving the citizens enough time to sever the bridge before the enemy could cross. Horatius, of course, was then on the wrong side of the river, and with the bridge collapsing under him.

        “Oh Tiber, father Tiber
        To whom the Romans prey.
        A Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms,
        take thou in charge this day”

  5. Anonymous

    Reading this brings it home that although the language may change the thoughts and emotions do not. It speaks to us across the centuries of the same feelings we have today.

    I’m afraid my favourite poem relates to some thing different. I am a fan of poems which celebrate and play with the English language – often obscure and made up words which still convey a meaning, or the idea of one. As a child I was mesmorised by both Alice In Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass and so I give you – Jabberwocky

    ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought–
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
    He chortled in his joy.

    ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


    1. Mike, thank you for sharing the poem Jabberwocky. It’s years since I read it and I’d forgotten how much fun it is – a joy to read aloud, so physical, playful with the made up words that still make such good sense. I’m tempted to reread the whole book now.

      Also your first comment is precious – thoughts and emotions are timeless just the way we express them changes. ‘It speaks to us across the centuries’ – beautifully and poetically said.

  6. Annika, that is a beautiful poem to celebrate Poetry Day. This must be what it is to find a true soulmate. It’s always difficult to pick just one poem, but the one that speaks to me now is:

    Come live with me and be my love
    Christopher Marlowe

    Come live with me and be my love,
    And we will all the pleasures prove
    That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
    Woods or steepy mountain yields.

    And we will sit upon the rocks,
    Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
    By shallow rivers to whose falls
    Melodious birds sing madrigals.

    And I will make thee beds of roses
    And a thousand fragrant posies,
    A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
    Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

    A gown made of the finest wool
    Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
    Fair lined slippers for the cold,
    With buckles of the purest gold;

    A belt of straw and ivy buds,
    With coral clasps and amber studs:
    And if these pleasures may thee move,
    Come live with me and be my love.

    The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
    For thy delight each May morning:
    If these delights thy mind may move,
    Then live with me and be my love.

    The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

    1. Lana, oh, I love this poem! Thank you so much for reminder! In the same vein of Donne’s poem but with less intensity and passion but I adore its gentle and pure adoration – it is so visually appealing and as the verses continue I’m drawn further and further into the idyllic world. Beautiful and thank you so much for sharing.

  7. The poem I like best of those I have read is ‘The Garden’, by Andrew Marvell.
    It suits my detached frame of mind. Another I like for the idea it embodies is ‘My Mind To Me A Kingdom Is,’ by Sir Edward Dyer. It is not nearly so well expressed as Marvell’s but the idea behind it likes me much and it has saved me the expense of travelling.

    I like Dover Beach a lot, particularly the ‘melancholy, long withdrawing roar.’
    And also ‘Upon Julia’s Clothes’ – you have to keep a close eye on these heathen vicars!

    1. Rod, thank you so much for sharing some of your favourite poems! I must admit I didn’t know any of them but have had a great time reading the poems and learning more about the men behind them. I think it is interesting how modern and accessible Dyer’s poem is – the thoughts behind it must have seemed revolutionary at the time! The Garden is wonderful to read and I love Dover Beach. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing. My love of poetry is thoroughly rejuvenated!

  8. I remember when I fell in love with poetry–thanks to a passionate high school teacher. I loved how poems say so much with so few words. I bought books from all my favorite poets. Sadly, over time, I’ve become lazy about reading between the lines, even being introspective. I’ve gotten away from poetry. John Donne’s poem is a perfect reminder of what grabbed me so many years ago. Thanks, Anika.

    1. Jacqui, its a wonder to have such an inspiring and passionate teacher at school – they always give much more than the tiny bit of restricted curriculum. Lovely that you caught the poem bug so young but like you I too drifted away from it for many years. So glad that Donne’s poem was an timely reminder. It’s only since blogging really and coming across new poetry and sharing of old favourites that I have started to read it again.

    1. If love of poetry is taught at a young age I think it will always remain with you and how special to be shown its beauty by your father; I’m very moved by your comment and thank you for sharing.

  9. Oh, Anna, that was so thrilling to read this poem. As I read it I found my memory come alive to thoughts of when I was in college studying the romantic poets. Donne and Keats were my favorite.

    1. Carol, Keats and Donne were the ones we studied at school in great depth and my other option for this post was Ode to a Nightingale – but thought it rather too serious and sad…but blimey, he does it so well. At university we studied th Romantics in German and I fell equally for them!

  10. Annika, I can’t thank you enough for posting this beautiful poem. I”m sitting here in a friends kitchen waiting for the hurricane to meet us and as the wind picks up I’m reading these wonderful words.

    I’ve heard of Donne but didn’t know too much about his poetry. He is truly a master at saying in words what I can mostly mumble to myself. I only wish to be able to write a poem half as good as this one day.

    1. JC, I am so glad you enjoyed this poem – it’s glorious declaration to the morning, to the life, universe is unequivocal and reads like a song! Although in the old language and style its appeal and resonance is eternal I feel. Good luck in writing your own poetry – what I’ve read on your blog so far I’ve enjoyed very much and been touched by them.😀

      Hope you’re keeping safe and the flooding and damage isn’t too bad,

    1. Curt, thank you for sharing these two and ‘No Man is an Island’ will always be pertinent within the world – a a very special poem indeed. Since joining WP I have heard a lot of Robert Frost and am enjoying reading his work. I can see why this poem resonates with you but imagine also there are not many roads you have not taken! 😀

  11. Ahh, I’ve always wanted to have the skill of memorizing poem. Alas, it’s not to be. But so many poems fill me up, wash me with joy and sorrow and great insight. I love the one you shared with us, and the ones your followers shared here. Sigh. We’re so lucky to have so many appreciate a good poem.

    1. Pam, poems seem to be much more an integral part in our lives than I imagined and yes, that is a wonderful thing! The range of emotions on reading them are sweeping indeed and let us gain wisdom and understanding of life and our place in it. I am so touched by the poems mentioned by others here and am enjoying studying further about the poets and their other poems – isn’t it a gift to always keep learning! 😀

        1. Pam, thank you so much for mentioning Mary Oliver!! After seeing your comment over the weekend I spent a blissful hour looking through her work – I was in heaven. And almost in tears – so many spoke directly to m. I’ve copied and pasted many for myself – so much truth, so simple but complexity in that. I then ended up forwarding many poems to some friends – think we’re setting up a Mary Oliver Fan club. To think she won the Pulitzer Prize and I’ve never really taken her in before…

          1. Well, I am getting goose bumped on the thought that I’m the one to introduce you to this wonderful poet. I think I first got to ‘know’ her poetry in a CA yoga class, where at the end as we meditated, the teacher read one of Oliver’s poems (and did so after each class for a month). I’ve actually ‘friended’ Mary Oliver on Facebook! :-0

  12. This is a good one Annika! One of my favs is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29:

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state,
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
    Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least;
    Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

    Thank God for copy and paste 🙂

    1. Kathy, thank you so much for sharing this sonnet – I recognised lines as is so often the case with Shakespeare and full of wisdom in such brevity. What more is needed in life than that true love! (Well apart from copy and paste function!)

      Hope you’re keeping safe…

  13. Here is one of my favorites by Joyce Kilmer. We memorized it in fourth grade and I must have been born with the ‘nature’ gene, because it was love at first sight…

    By Joyce Kilmer
    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in Summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    1. Bette, this is delightful and I love it! Can’t but smile reading this and as we have robins and bluet tits constantly in our lilac tree near the house could identify with the ‘A nest of Robins in her hair.’ Thank you so much sharing and I’m now going to read more about Joyce Kilmer!

  14. delphini510

    You have made a wonderful choice for us on this National Poetry Day. It is so sheer and yet
    a strong song -almost hymn – to love in its pure sense. ” Love so alike, that none do slacken, none die.”
    Thank you for this beautiful gift, courtesy of John Donne. Pure music although today almost every word would be called archaic. Some archaic words have more music than a modern version.

    1. Thank you, Mirja. I saw on the news this morning about the National Poetry Day and lots of events are taking place across the county so I wanted to share something here on WP. So glad you enjoyed the poem and yes,the language is like music and I feel it can be appreciated even if the meaning is unclear – myself I used to enjoy reading Milton aloud although the deeper meaning was always harder to decipher. Isn’t this a kind of love we all dream of – the spiritual permanence but also hint at the sensual romantic. You haven’t said…do you have a favourite poem?😀 Even if a Swedish one I would love to know!

      1. delphini510

        Well Annika, I have many Swedish ones as there is where my education took place.
        One we learnt by heart early was by Nils Ferlin:

        Du har tappat ditt ord och din papperslapp,
        du barfotabarn i livet.
        Så sitter du åter på handlar’ns trapp
        och gråter så övergivet.

        Vad var det för ord – var det långt eller kort,
        var det väl eller illa skrivet?
        Tänk efter nu – förrn vi föser dig bort
        du barfotabarn i livet.

        Nils Ferlin”

        Like several others here I also have both “IF” and “Desiderata” on the wall.
        p.s. Do you need translation? :))

          1. delphini510

            As you know, poems are difficult to translate owing to the different reference of each language. Here goes though:

            You have lost your word, your note
            you barefoot child in life,
            Sitting again alone on the Grocer’s step
            crying so forlornly.

            What was it, your word – was it long or short
            Was it well or badly written?
            Think carefully now – before we shoo you out,
            You barefoot child in life. ”


  15. A thought-provoking poem and question, Annika. It makes me wonder if my earliest memory of poetry kept me from appreciating the beauty of poetic expression for so long. It was third grade. Our assignment was to memorize and recite a poem in front of the class. I loved my choice, a selection from one of the few books in my house, my mother’s high school English literature text. Many decades later, I still remember the poem I recited, “The Fool’s Prayer” by Edward Sill. (Here’s a link to the poem and an account I wrote about this pivotal event in my young life: Embarrassing though it was, as I look back I’m intrigued by the way this poem and experience affected my life in fascinating and profound ways.

    Thank you for reminding me of this today. ❤

    1. Carol, thank you such much for sharing this poem and your experience – those early childhood experiences are edifying and their effects long-lasting. Such a negative reaction to your love of a wonderful poem must have caused distress. Your calm and creative approach to the assignment’s aftermath seems to have enhanced your life though I feel. Thank you so much for your comment.

  16. It’s interesting how studying a poem can sear it into our hearts and memories. I noticed mention of Frost above and I love many of his poems. For me, those classroom studies imprinted Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, Hopkins’ The Windhover, and Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est. I can still recite them years later ❤

    1. Diana, I love your choice of words here – ‘sear it into our hearts’ – just so. First though the initial hard study slog then the actual meaning of the words searing their permanent presence…I haven’t heard of Hopkins so look forward to looking at that but the other two I know well. Kubla Khan is one of those poems that is a song in its own right even if you didn’t understand a single word, but truly magical. My son is now studying WWI poetry and even he was captivated and astounded by Dulce et Decorum Est. Re-reading it with him I moved more than ever, the language so raw, then dignified – outstanding. Thank you so much for sharing your favourites.

      1. The Windhover is sort of like Kubla Khan in that I just loved the sound of the words. And yes, who knows what Coleridge meant. Ha ha. Amazing that we all know that poem and don’t know what the heck it’s about!

    1. Jill, ‘If’ is a classic – so full of wisdom. My mother has a print of this and I often pause to read it even though I almost know the words off by heart. If only all humans could follow its message, think how different the world would be.

    1. Oh, I’ve read some Robert Frost recently and like his work very much – as you say totally different in language and style. Do you have a favourite poem – I am thinking I might collate some of those mentioned onto a separate post.

  17. There are 3 ~
    I participated in a Spanish declaration contest at Kent State University while in high school, Annika. A poem called “La Higuera” about a fig tree was challenging but beautiful, along with the humorous irony of the misunderstood Two Roads (The Path Less Taken) by Robert Frost, which says he may come back and take the other road. So many people think it means to take the road less traveled (in Life! 🙂 )
    The last one is an old meaningful one put on 70’s posters: “Desiderata.” I teallyike how it carries a lot of nice parts to listen to others no matter how important they are, and how we should go “placidly” and be in peace through Life. 🙂 I wrote a post about it awhile ago. . . peace, Annika! ❤

    1. Robin, thank you so for mentioning ‘Desiderata’ – a poem I used to know well and loved but since forgotten! Deep, wise and spiritual; we could all do with following its message in modern life. Particularly relevant for me at least is: ‘…in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.’ It must have been exciting to take part in the contest at the university – I’ve found the poem but yes obviously it’s all in Spanish! Thank you for mentioning about the misunderstood element in The Path Less Taken – I’ll have to have a closer read of this! Warmest wishes to you, Robin and thank you for sharing your poems! ❤️

  18. It is a nice poem, but there’s no way I could ever accurately recall it in its entirety. I had to memorize poems when I was a student, but even the ones I liked never stayed in my head for very long after exam time was finished. Random bits and pieces are still in there somewhere,though. They pop out unexpectedly from time to time.

    1. Bun, the memory is a strange being and interesting when and why information from many years earlier decides to come to the fore! We learnt so many poems by heart and most I’ve mainly forgotten but this one was a favourite and re-reading it over the years keeps it fresh for me.

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