A Comparison of John Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

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A Contrast of John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", and Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress"

The stereotype of poetry is that poems are written to exemplify a relationship between two people who are so infatuated with each other it is said that they are "in love" and this can give meaning to what is commonly referred to as a love poem. Poets John Donne and Andrew Marvell write such poetry however, their poems "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", and "To His Coy Mistress", consider two different concepts. Although they are addressing love, they are dealing with different aspects of it.

The two poems can be contrasted in form, poetic devices such as symbols, tone, rhyme, and the rhythmical pattern. Symbols and tone can often encourage the reader to look for underlying mental representations that will connect them to the text to put different elements like the mood of the writer or hidden motives into perspective. The form and rhyme scheme can be applied to the person the poem is addressing, and when analyzed further, it can determine unconscious feelings and meanings that may be expressed by the writer. When using a certain rhythmical pattern, the writer can point out exactly how he feels about his subject.

Donne's poem is in stanzaic form and the rhyming scheme is ABAB, CDCD, etc. In lines one through four, "As virtuous men pass mildly away, / The breath goes now, and some say, no", the rhyming words: "away", "go", "say", and "no" because of the repetition of sounds can already make the reader feel bored. The words themselves can also reflect a negative feeling of being unwanted. These bland, organized sentences and the rhyme patterns show the speaker's unattached attitude, and take away from the excitement of the subject of love.

Marvell's poem uses continuous rhyming couplets to illustrate love's unconventional and irrational aspects, as love usually is. They take two separate lines and make a matching pair out of them. Often he uses words that can symbolize togetherness like "all" and "ball" as he writes:

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball

And tear our pleasures with rough strife,

Thorough the iron gates of life. (41-44)

This rhyme scheme can make a relation to two people, a couple, joining together.

Donne uses symbols ...

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...her depressing, such as one would use when separating. The poem also is not addressing its subject, the woman, directly. The concept of indirectness points to the author's lack of emotion. He is remaining emotionless and indifferent to avoid any confrontation from her. He wants their separation to be as quick and as painless as possible.

Since these two poems deal with completely different aspects of love, they must have been written differently. Their different forms can be analyzed to get the individual interpretation of meaning to be gathered from each. They both come across differently to the reader. One poem is about sexual love and the other poem is about the end of love. This just shows that not all love poems are about falling in love. When a person hears the phrase: "love poem," he naturally thinks that it will be about a love smitten male or female. These two poems just prove that there are many aspects of love that are not necessarily about falling in love. Love poems can also be about separating from our loved one or even about giving in to lust and temptation. From this the reader learns that there are more definitions to a love poem than originally thought.

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