Experiencing the True Love of John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”

Experiencing the True Love of John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”

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Departing from a lover might often seem painful; yet, it is precisely with the departures that one learns about the nature of true love. In the poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” John Donne offers a beautiful insight into this subject. As he consoles his wife by asserting that their love is everlasting, the poet develops a theme that unifies the poem and allows the reader to identify his intention. The theme, therefore, is especially important as it serves as a central point around which all the other elements are structured. As John Donne explores the nature of unconditional love, he employs metaphors, symbolism, and tone as the three main elements that reinforce the theme and contribute to creating a poem that both moves and connects to the reader.
Throughout the poem, Donne employs metaphors extensively to emphasize the spiritual dimension of the love he shares with his wife. In the first stanza, the author compares his leaving with the death of “virtuous men” (line 1). As these men “whisper to their souls to go” (line 2), the lovers ought to accept the departure like the men are able to detach their bodies from their souls, and separate peacefully. As he continues to comfort his wife, he invites her to “make no noise” (line 5) and suggests that there should be “No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move” (line 6). This comparison of her crying with floods engages the reader because it sounds unconventional. Unlike most wives when their husbands leave, Donne’s wife is to remain quiet as he departs. The noise of her tears would reveal their love to the “laity” (line 8) and that would disrupt their happiness. By making a distinction between them and the common people, Donne is suggesting that there is something holy about th...


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...y reinforcing the spiritual nature of love, exploring the meaning behind the words, and creating a mood that evokes feelings in the reader, these three elements intensify the theme as they work interdependently throughout the poem. As real love unites the soul, these elements unite the reader to the poem taking him in a journey to beyond the lines and feel the message deeply. Therefore, the author succeeds in describing the nature of true love, a love that endures distance and transcends time and space. Likewise, although we may get separated from the poem physically after reading it, we cannot help but remain profoundly connected after our farewell.



Works Cited

Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. 674-75. Print.

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