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'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning' by John Donne - Summary

'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning' by John Donne - Summary

'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning' by John Donne - Summary

"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" is a metaphysical poem written by John Donne. It was published in 1633 as part of his collection of poems titled "Songs and Sonnets." The poem is a farewell or valediction to his wife, Anne Donne, before his departure on a diplomatic mission.

The poem consists of nine stanzas, each containing four lines. It is written in a regular rhyme scheme of ABAB, with the meter primarily iambic tetrameter. The title itself suggests that Donne is encouraging his wife not to mourn or grieve their temporary separation.

In "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," Donne compares the love between him and his wife to a spiritual bond that transcends physical separation. He argues that their love is so pure and refined that it can withstand any distance or absence.

The poem begins with an extended metaphor of a compass, a tool used to draw circles. Donne compares himself to the fixed leg of the compass, representing his unwavering and steadfast nature, while his wife is likened to the moving leg of the compass. Despite their physical distance, the two legs of the compass remain connected, symbolizing the unbreakable connection between their souls.

Donne further elaborates on the idea of their love being ethereal and spiritual. He uses imagery of heavenly bodies, such as the planets, to describe their love as transcending earthly limitations. Just as the planets revolve in harmonious orbits, their souls are in perfect alignment and harmony, even when physically apart.

The poem continues with Donne addressing his wife directly, assuring her that their separation is temporary and that they will be reunited soon. He asks her not to shed tears or express grief, as their love is not dependent on physical presence. He asserts that their souls are so closely intertwined that they can communicate and be connected even when physically apart.

In the final stanza, Donne emphasizes the strength and depth of their love. He suggests that their love is so powerful and rare that it should not be mourned but celebrated. He states that their love will only grow stronger in his absence, and that their reunion will be even more joyous.

"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" is a complex and profound exploration of love, distance, and the nature of relationships. It reflects Donne's belief in the spiritual and transcendent aspects of love, as well as his intellectual approach to expressing emotions. The poem showcases his mastery of metaphysical conceits and his ability to intertwine abstract concepts with concrete imagery to create a rich and thought-provoking piece of poetry.

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