Structure and versification in The Good-morrow

Stanza form

The stanza form is regular, each stanza consisting of seven lines, and rhyming ababccc. The c-rhyme is a little suspect at times- ‘gone', ‘showne', ‘one' are more eye rhymes than sound ones. English pronunciation has changed somewhat since Donne's day, so that a final ‘-ly' did actually rhyme with ‘I'.


  • The last line of each stanza is an alexandrine, i.e. it has twelve syllables
  • The remaining lines are all pentameters, having ten syllables.
  • Donne frequently avoids any smoothly flowing rhythm: the ‘I' voice is too changeable to allow that. Even though a line like:
Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,

is technically an iambic pentameter, the number of monosyllables and the consonant clusters make it a clumsy line to read, but that is deliberate: the world outside is a clumsy place, in contrast to a smooth world

Without sharpe North, without declining West?

which is perfectly balanced in the middle by the comma.

Investigating The Good-morrow
  • Consider Donne's use of stanza form and metre in The Good-morrow:
    • What is the effect of the longer last line in each stanza?
    • A seven line stanza is not usual; six is more common. What does Donne achieve by having seven lines? Or twenty-one lines in all?
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