Text of the Poem

               Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

               She's all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world's contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.


  1. Line twenty-eight includes a diacope, or the repetition of a word (either exactly or with slight variations) with intervening words in between. As with other forms of rhetorical repetition, diacope heightens the emotional impact of a line by expanding upon ideas or elevating the urgency of the speaker’s words. Here, Donne’s repetition of the verb “to warm” makes the speaker’s claim more forceful—the sun, according to the speaker, has a duty to warm the world, and since the speaker says the world is his shared bed, then the sun can fulfill its duty if it remains in the bedroom to warm the bed.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The noun “alchemy” refers to a chemical science and speculative philosophy that was widely practiced during the Middle Ages (476–1453 CE) and early Renaissance (approximately 1550–1660 CE). Alchemy involved attempting to transform substances into other substances, particularly base metals into gold. The potion used to perform this transmutation was also believed to grant immortality and cure diseases. Donne’s speaker uses it here to follow up his claim that all honor is false by saying that all wealth is speculative or fake.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Donne uses anaphora, or the repetition of words at the beginning of successive lines or phrases, in this line. Here, the repetition of the word “all” reinforces rhythm while also drawing attention to the speaker’s boisterous claims about the qualities of the intimate relationship he shares with his lover.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Lines seventeen and eighteen are enjambed. Enjambment is when a phrase or idea flows from one line into the next, rather than concluding at the end of its originating line. In this case, enjambment builds anticipation and pace to bring in the speaker’s bold claims that his shared bed is the world.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Donne employs sibilance, or the repetition of words containing the letter “s,” in this line. When read aloud, the successive “s” sounds in the words “lose,” “sight,” and “so” create a hissing sound. Though sibilance can contribute to a harsher tone, such as in the previous stanza, it lends musicality to the speaker’s exaggerated expression of love here, as he claims that he could banish the sun with a wink but won’t because he would miss looking at his lover too much.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. The entirety of “The Sun Rising” is an apostrophe, or an address to something or someone who does not respond. In this context, the speaker’s address to the unresponsive sun heightens the poem’s emotional intensity and allows him to challenge the sun’s authority, claiming that the sun has no say in whether or not he spends the day in bed with his lover. In this way, the apostrophe enables Donne to engage concretely with the abstract concept of love.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. The final two lines of the first stanza features figurative language to emphasize the speaker’s point about love. Here, the speaker underscores the power of mutual love by declaring that it transcends “the rags of time” Donne continues in the second stanza, in which the speaker asserts that his lover’s eyes are more brilliant than the sun’s light and that the world’s kings “whom [the sun] saw’st yesterday” are present in their bed.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Donne possibly alludes to King James I, who ruled over Ireland and England between 1603 and 1625. King James I was particularly fond of hunting early in the morning; thus, Donne’s speaker urges the sun to bother the king’s huntsmen, who must rise early in order to assist the king in his hunting activities.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. The noun “prentice” is another word for “apprentice,” or a type of assistantship in which an inexperienced person learns a trade by assisting an experienced craftsman. In Donne’s time, a common apprenticeship arrangement was between an adolescent boy and a master craftsman such as a blacksmith. The speaker urges the sun to nag apprentices who are presumably irritated, or “sour,” by having to rise early for work.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. The verb “to chide” means to scold or otherwise express disapproval of someone. Donne’s word choice further develops the personified sun’s character as an unpleasant, controlling busybody. The speaker challenges the sun’s power by questioning why “lovers’ seasons” must alter according to the sun’s “motions”; that is, why should the lovers allow the sun’s presence to influence their actions?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. The adjective “pedantic” means to be overly concerned with knowledge or learning, particularly about matters that others care little about. Here, Donne’s speaker depicts the sun as a nagging schoolteacher, pestering the speaker and his lover to get out of bed and start the day.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. Donne personifies the sun when he describes it as a “busy old fool” that is “unruly.” Personification is a device in which human characteristics are assigned to nonhuman things. The sun is a star and therefore does not have human-like attributes; however, portraying it as a human-like character enables the speaker to more effectively and memorably make his claims.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. The poem begins with a caesura, a device in which a line of verse is broken up by punctuation—such as a period, comma, em dash (—), or ellipsis (...). By interrupting the first line with a comma, Donne creates a pause that emphasizes the unflattering words used to describe the sun: “busy old fool” and “unruly.” Thus, the caesura develops the poem’s tone while also immediately varying its rhythm.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor