Break of Day
By John Donne
‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ‘tis light?
Did we lie down because ‘twas night?
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.
Light hath no tongue, but is all eye;
If it could speak as well as spy,
This were the worst that it could say,
That being well I fain would stay,
And that I loved my heart and honour so,
That I would not from him, that had them, go.
Must business thee from hence remove?
Oh, that’s the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.
Summary of Break of Day
- Popularity of “Break of Day”: The poem Break of Day was written by John Donne, a great English metaphysical poet, scholar, and writer. It is a descriptive poem that explains how the surroundings can easily influence love, and such influences can create differences. It also sheds light on the lovely feeling of love in contrast to the inevitable chores of human beings. The popularity of this beautiful poem lies in the fact that it captures the intense feelings of a female lover.
- “Break of Day” As a Representative of Love: This poem is written from a female perspective. The poem begins when two lovers supposedly get up because of the break of the day. The rising sun does not bring happiness to the lady because she knows the light gives a break from their intimacy. Instead, she adores the night because it brings the two lovers closer and lets them get lost in the harmony of love. Unfortunately, the rising sun reminds people of their duties, and this reminder eventually fades the exuberant feelings of seemingly lasting love. Unfortunately, man has to perform various chores in life, which ultimately separate lovers. Yet, some people enjoy love because of their dilemmas, such as the fools, the poor, and false persons. In contrast, a busy man gives priority to his duties rather than love.
- Major Themes in “Break of Day”: Love versus the world, the complaining nature of humankind, and the inevitable responsibilities of life are the poem’s major themes. The poem sheds light on the heartfelt feelings of a woman who does not like when her lover leaves her in bed in the morning. She does not understand that the man has to work, and she wants him to prioritize love. While on the other hand, the man seems dutiful; he willingly leaves the cozy bed that he has shared overnight with her beloved and departs to perform his duties. She thinks that it is because of these duties she is unable to enjoy love to the fullest.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Break of Day
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /i/ and the sound of /ai/ in “Did we lie down because ‘twas night” and the sound of /o/ in “O wilt thou therefore rise from me.”
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of the word in the same line in quick successions, such as the sound of /th/ and /f/ in “the foul, the false.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /l/ in “The poor, the foul, the false, love can” and the sound of /t/ in “Should in spite of light keep us together.”
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;
“He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Why should we rise because ‘tis light”, “Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither” and “If it could speak as well as spy.”
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet used this device in the opening lines of the second stanza, where he states, “light has no tongue.”
- Oxymoron: It is a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunctions. John Donne used this term in the last stanza of the poem, such as “Oh, that’s the worst disease of love.”
- Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet personifies the light in the second stanza of the poem, such as; “Light hath no tongue, but is all eye.”
- Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. John Donne adds rhetorical questions in the poem to emphasize his point, such as “Must business thee from hence remove?” and “Why should we rise because ‘tis light?”
- Simile: It is a device Used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. Donne used this in the second stanza of the poem where it is stated as; “If it could speak as well as spy.”
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Break of Day
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. John Donne has used end rhyme in this poem. For example, “light/night”, “say/stay” and “can/man.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an AABB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some verses. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each comprising six verses.
- Sestet: A sestet is a six-lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. The poem comprises three sestets.
Quotes to be Used
The lines from “Break of Day” are useful while talking about the power of love that, despite having class differences, people try to adore this feeling.
“Oh, that’s the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.”