Valediction Forbidding Mourning Essay Research Paper ValedictionForbidding

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Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Essay, Research Paper 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 laity” (line 8), that is, to ordinary people. The loud display of grief upon separation would therefore desecrate the sacred love of the speaker and his lady to the less elevated love of ordinary people. The second stanza introduces another category of startling comparative images, referring to the motions or changes of the earth and spheres. Donne’s contemporaries believed that the heavens were perfect(reflecting the perfection of God). Everything “sublunary”– below the moon, on this earth – was imperfect, subject to decay and death. Furthermore, the planets moving in orbit around the

earth in the geocentric, earth-centred Ptolemaic view of the universe were attached to spheres of crystal that often moved or shook (Damrosch et al. 238-9). In line 6, the “tear-floods” and “sigh-tempests move” refers to the moving of the earth. In the third stanza, the speaker again refers to the unrefined love of ordinary people in contrast with the love between he and his lady. The upheavals in the lives of ordinary lovers on earth are earthquakes (“Moving of th’earth”) that bring “harms and fears” (line 9). In contrast, in a more refined love such as that between the speaker and his lady, any disturbance is above the reach of such earthly upheavals. It is like the far-off trembling in the heavens. It is as if their love resided in the heavens, among the

crystal spheres of the Ptolemaic universe. Even when there is “trepidation” or trembling of the spheres, it is “innocent” — it will cause no harm or damage in the world below (lines 11-12). Donne continues to refer to the Ptolemaic universe in the fourth and fifth stanzas. In the fourth stanza, ordinary earth-bound lovers are caught up in the physical presence of the other person, which like all material things in this “sublunary” sphere below the moon, is subject to change and decay (line 13). Their “soul is sense” and “cannot admit absense” (lines 14-15) because the only way to express their love is through their five senses. Their relationship depends on the physical act of love, which cannot occur in the absense of each other. The speaker explains that