Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 13: Metaphor: The Sun Rising

by John Donne

Performer: Librivox - John Nixon

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.

    Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 13: Metaphor: The Sun Rising

by John Donne

Performer: Librivox - John Nixon


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


In John Donne's 'The Sun Rising,' the narrator scolds the sun for waking him, for he prefers remaining cocooned with his true love. The narrator refuses to close his eyes to block the sun because he'd lose sight of his true love. The rest of the world does not matter to the narrator, whether king or prince or wealth or expensive spices. All that matters is his true love. The narrator considers their bedroom the center of his universe. In this poem, Donne employs a literary device called a metaphor. A metaphor uses a word or phrase to refer to something that it is not to make an implied comparison.


Poets often use literary devices, defined as 'rules of thumb, convention, or structure that are employed in literature and storytelling.'

The nine literary devices we'll study include:

  1. Rhyming
  2. Alliteration
  3. Similes
  4. Metaphors
  5. Personification
  6. Foreshadowing
  7. Allusion
  8. Hyperbole
  9. Onomatopoeia

Metaphors use a word or phrase to refer to something that they are not to make an implied comparison.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Identify the Metaphors in the Examples

Read aloud the metaphors below. Note that metaphors make a comparison like a simile but do not use 'as' and 'like.'

  • Her cheeks were two red cherries. (cheeks compared to cherries)
  • His fingers were icicles. (fingers compared to icicles)
  • Little tornado Davy ripped through the toybox. (little boy compared to tornado)
  • The black blanket of night smothered the light. (night compared to black blanket)
  • The kite soared, flapping its wings and extending its tailfeathers. (kite compared to a bird)

Activity 5: Identify the Rhyme Scheme

Review the poem and identify the pattern of its rhyming scheme. (e.g. ABBACDCD, etc.)

Activity 6: Identify Alliteration

  • Review the poem and point out any instances of alliteration.
  • For example, 'I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,' repeats the sounds of 'c,' 'cl,' and 'wi.'

Activity 7: Identify Metaphors

Review the poem excerpts, and identify the metaphors.

Name the pairs of elements that the metaphors compare.

  • Busy old fool, unruly sun.
  • Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide.
  • She is all states (countries), and all princes, I.
  • This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.

Activity 8: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 40-42 of 'Elementary Poetry 5: Literary Devices.'


  1. 'Metaphors.' Wikipedia. n.p.