Although that it may seem that the meaning of A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning could be applied to any couple awaiting separation, according to Izaak Walton, a seventeenth-century biographer, John Donne wrote his poem for his wife, Anne Donne, right before his departure for France in 1611 (Damrosch 238). However, even though the poem is not written to an audience, many of us can learn from what Donne is trying to convey to his wife. In the poem, Donne pleads with his lady to accept his departure. He defines and celebrates a love that transcends the physical realm and expresses that their love can therefore survive and even grow through their separation.
In arguing against mourning and emotional confusion, Donne uses a series of bold and unexpected comparisons for the love between himself and his lady. Donne makes his first surprising analogy in the first stanza when he compares the approaching separation of the lovers to death. "he 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 happiness in the afterlife; therefore, they die in peace without fear and emotion. By this he suggests that the separation of the lovers is parrallel to the separation caused by death.
In the second stanza Donne furthers his comparison for a peaceful separation. "So let us melt, and make no noise" (line 5). The word "melt" implies a change in the physical state of love. The physical bond that he and his wife have will dissolve quietly like the soul of a dying man from his body. "N...
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...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 for of us to learn from, the huge apparent differences bring the mortal love between the speaker and his lady to a level of perfection and no journey can ever break that.
Damrosch, L. Adventures in English Literature. New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1985.
Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Harbrace
Anthology of Literature. Ed.
Scott,Jon C. Toronto: Harcourt Brace & Comp., 1994. 99-101.
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