Many of John Donne's poems contain metaphysical conceits and intellectual reasoning to build a deeper understanding of the speaker's emotional state. A metaphysical conceit can be defined as an extended, unconventional metaphor between objects that appear to be unrelated. Donne is exceptionally good at creating unusual unions between different elements in order to illustrate his point and form a persuasive argument in his poems.
By using metaphysical conceits in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," Donne attempts to convince his love (presumably his wife) that parting is a positive experience which should not be looked upon with sadness. In the first stanza, Donne compares the speaker's departure to the mild death of virtuous men who pass on so peacefully that their loved ones find it difficult to detect the exact moment of their death. Their separation must be a calm transition like this form of death which Donne describes. The poet writes, "let us melt, and make no noise"(line 5). Cavanaugh explains that the word "melt" refers to a change in physical state and says that "the bond of the lovers will dissolve quietly like the soul of a dying man separating from his body"(par. 5). I do not entirely agree with Cavanaugh's idea that the lovers' bond will dissolve, but I do agree that there is a change in physical state. The bond will still be present, only altered because of the absence of a physical presence.
The next conceit that is used by Donne is based on the Ptolemaic view of the universe as being divided into moving spheres. This obsolete fact would only be known by individuals who were well educated, as Donne obviously was. Donne's allusion to the studies...
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...Donne, it can be seen that although every poem is unique, there are specific elements that are common in all of them.
Abrams, M.H., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1993.
Cavanaugh, Cynthia A. "The Circle of Souls in John Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Luminarium. 1999.
Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." Abrams, 1093-1094.
Donne, John. "A Valediction: Of Weeping." Abrams, 1089.
Donne, John. "The Indifferent." Abrams, 1085-1086.
Donne, John. "The Flea." Abrams, 1090-1091.
Mourgues, Odette De. Metaphysical, Baroque and Precieux Poetry. Folcroft, PA: The Folcroft Press, Inc., 1969.
"Venus, of Greek Religion." The 1997 Canadian Encyclopedia Plus. CD-ROM. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1996.
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