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The Spherical Image as the Central Paradox in Valediction: for Weeping

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The Spherical Image as the Central Paradox in Valediction: for Weeping

In John Donne's "A Valediction: for Weeping," the speaker consoles his lover before leaving on a sea voyage and begs her not to cry. Crying, the speaker tells his lover this poem at the docks before he boards his ship going abroad. Donne uses a spherical image as the central metaphor in his poem. When Donne uses irony, paradox, and hyperbole including the use of round images such as: coins, globes, and tears he strengthens the spherical conceit. By comparing two "seeming" opposites like tears and love as his conceit, Donne uses the spherical image as the central paradox in "A Valediction: Of Weeping."

Donne opens the poem with the speaker crying while talking to his lover before his departure abroad. His first spherical images are in the first stanza, and they are tears and coins:

"Let me pour forth

My tears before thy face whilst I stay here,

For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,

And by this mintage they are something worth," (1-4)

Both the coins and his tears have "worth," literal and figurative values respectively. His tears fall from his face because he hurts for leaving, something no amount of coins can pay to alleviate. Like coins being stamped out of a sheet of metal, his tears are pressed from his eyes. Because water reflects her image and tears are made out of water, the stamp image has a double meaning too. The tears equal the lover. The mintage mentioned in line four has an expanded meaning. A set of pressed coins is a mintage as is the set of the speaker's tears, but the impression on the coin (the lover's face) can also be a mintage.

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...he other's death." (26) As they sigh, their sighs create wind which upsets the water. The rough water, on which the speaker is sailing, could drown him.

Donne's mastery of comparison allows him to create an in-depth metaphor comparing spherical images to two lover's love. He uses some of the same images as he does in his other poems for example: holy love and tears in "The Canonization," spheres in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" and "The Sun Rising," and two worlds becoming one in "The Good-Morrow" and "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." Also in the other valediction poem Donne includes the line "No tear floods, nor sigh tempest move." (6) This idea is mentioned in "A Valediction: Of Weeping" too.

Donne uses the simple round images to symbolize a deeper meaning coupled with metaphor and paradox to create a complex love poem.
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