A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Essay

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Essay

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A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Although the subject matter of A Valediction: Forbidding
Mourning could be applied to any couple pending separation, John Donne wrote his poem for his
wife on the eve of his departure for France in 1611.In the poem, the speaker pleads with his lady
to accept his departure. The speaker defines and celebrates a love that transcends the physical
and can therefore endure and even grow through separation. In arguing against mourning and
emotional upheaval, Donne uses a series of bold and unexpected comparisons for the love
between the speaker and his lady. Donne makes his first surprising analogy in the first stanza
when he compares the impending separation of the lovers to death. The speaker compares his
parting from his lover to the parting of the soul from a virtuous man at death. According to the
speaker, "virtuous men pass mildly away" (line 1) because the virtue in their lives has assured
them of glory and reward in the afterlife; hence, they die in peace without fear and emotion. He
suggests that the separation of the lovers be like this separation caused by death. In the second
stanza the speaker furthers his comparison for a peaceful separation. "So let us melt, and make
no noise" (line 5) refers to the melting of gold by a goldsmith or alchemist. When gold is melted
it does not sputter and is therefore quiet. The speaker and his love should not display their
private, intimate love as "tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move" (line 6). The speaker thinks that
it would be a "profanation" (line 7) to reveal the sacred love he shares with his lady. It would be
similar to priests revealing the mysteries of their faith to "the l...


... middle of paper ...


...In the last stanza, the speaker explains
that the firmness of the love of his lady will make him come back to where he began.
Furthermore, the circle created by the journey of the compass was the symbol of perfection in
Donne's time because just like God and eternity, it has no beginning and no end. This use of the
circle in Donne's poem suggests the perfection of the love between he and his wife. In A
Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, Donne describes a most perfect and unchangeable love
between two people. Throughout the poem he skillfully compares the love of the speaker and his
lady to things that seem completely different to the love between them. Whether Donne wrote
his poem for his wife or just touched a universal theme, the huge apparent differences bring the
mortal love between the speaker and his lady to a level of perfection above earthly faults.

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