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A Valediction Forbidding Mourning By John Donne

1860 words - 7 pages

A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNINGby John DonneAS virtuous men pass mildly away,And whisper to their souls to go,Whilst some of their sad friends do say,"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."So let us melt, and make no noise,No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;'Twere profanation of our joysTo tell the laity our love.Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;Men reckon what it did, and meant ;But trepidation of the spheres,Though greater far, is innocent.Dull sublunary lovers' love--Whose soul is sense--cannot admitOf absence, 'cause it doth removeThe thing which elemented it.But we by a love so much refined,That ourselves know not what it is,Inter-assuredèd of the mind,Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.Our two souls therefore, which are one,Though I must go, endure not yetA breach, but an expansion,Like gold to aery thinness beat.If they be two, they are two soAs stiff twin compasses are two ;Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no showTo move, but doth, if th' other do.And though it in the centre sit,Yet, when the other far doth roam,It leans, and hearkens after it,And grows erect, as that comes home.Such wilt thou be to me, who must,Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;Thy firmness makes my circle just,And makes me end where I begun.At the beginning of "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning," the poet, John Donne, engages in a didactic lesson to show the parallel between a positive way to meet death and a positive way to separate from a lover. When a virtuous man dies, he whispers for his soul to go while others await his parting. Such a man sets an example for lovers. The separation of the soul from the body, and the separation of lovers from each other, is not an ending but the beginning of a new cycle. The poem ends with the image of a circle, the symbol of perfection, representing the union of souls in a love relationship. This perfection is attained by parting at the beginning of the circle and reuniting at the point where the curves reconnect.According to Helen Gardner, the metaphysical poem takes the reader down a certain path, a fixed line of argumentation. This valediction, an act of bidding farewell, proceeds in the guise of a monologue in which a speaker attempts to persuade a lover to remain faithful during his absence. The monologue is dramatic in the sense that the stay-behind lover is the implied listener. Donne's monologue is unique because he uses metaphysical comparisons to show the union of the lovers during their period of separation.Although the poem attempts to persuade the lover as an implied listener, it also speaks indirectly to the reader who is drawn into the argument. The speaker's argument is supported by an implied reference to the authority of Greek philosophers and astronomers. According to Patricia Pinka, this use of esteemed authority to justify a view about love is a common unifying element throughout many of Donne's Songs and Sonnets.It is probable that Donne wrote this poem for his wife, Ann...

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