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”: Written by John Donne, a great English metaphysical poet, scholar, and writer, “Break of Day” is a beautiful descriptive poetic piece. The poem explains how the surroundings can easily influence love and, this influence can create differences. It also sheds light on the beautiful 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 got up because of the break of day. The rising sun does not bring happiness to the lady because she knows the light will bring a short pause in her lovemaking. 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 predicaments, 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 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 lady who does not like when her lover leaves her in bed when the sun comes up. She does not understand that the man has businesses to do, but 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 departed to perform his duties. This dutiful attitude of the man makes the lady question the credibility of love. 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”
literary devices are powerful tools that enable writers to give wings to their ideas. John Donne has also glorified his idea with the help of these devices whose analysis is as follows.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ 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 in the same line in quick succession 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 /t/ in “The poor, the foul, the false, love can” and the sound of /s/ in “Should in spite of light keep us together.”
- Enjambment: It is defined 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. John Donne has used imagery in this poem such as; “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 has 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 has 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 has personified 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 has posed rhetorical questions at many places 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 has 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 the 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 such as; “light/night”, “say/stay” and “can/man.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows 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.”