It was penned before he left on a trip to Europe. It was not published until after his death, appearing in the collection Songs and Sonnets. The poem is divided into sets of four lines, or quatrains. Donne has also structured this piece with a consistent pattern of rhyme, following the scheme of abab. In regards to meter, Donne chose to use iambic tetrameter.
|Published (Last):||16 August 2014|
|PDF File Size:||8.89 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||8.34 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Romantic, right? On the contrary, his love is like the unnoticed, subtle movements of the stars and planets that control the fates of every person well, according to popular belief.
To further prove the greatness of their love, he gives his last metaphor: a mathematical compass—because nothing says sex appeal like mathematical apparatus. But he says that he and his wife are like a compass when drawing a circle. One foot of the compass Donne goes way out and travels around, while the other his wife stays planted at home and leans after it.
But those two compass feet are part of one unit and will always end up back together. And we give props to anyone that can drop the microphone with that as a closing image.
Stanza 1 As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls to go, Bummer. Folks are dying. In this case, the speaker is talking about the death of "virtuous" men, who "pass mildly away" because they have no regrets or shame. Death, for these men, is peaceful. More than that, they are in control. They can simply "whisper" their souls away off to heaven. The long vowel sounds like the U in "virtuous," the A in "away," and the O in "souls" and "go" make the lines long and breathy to say, even though they have the same meter as the rest of the poem check out " Form and Meter " for more on that stuff.
Lines Whilst some of their sad friends do say, The breath goes now, and some say, No: Lines tell us that, when these virtuous men die peacefully, all their friends gather around the deathbed. So they spend their time debating—one of them looks at the man in the bed and says, "He stopped breathing!
Metaphysical conceits these types of metaphors , for which our guy was famous often carry along for a while, getting more outlandish as they go. Like a good metaphysical poet, Donne sets up the metaphor in stanza one, then brings it home starting here.
And man, is it weird. Poets like Donne were getting bored with the old lines: "Baby, our love is like a rose. So Donne apparently decided to go with: "Baby, our love is like a dying old man. Let us explain: You whipper-snappers are too young for this, but the SAT used to have a section devoted to analogies. You know, "branch is to tree as finger is to hand.
The "so" in line five, then, is the turn in the analogy. The first four lines gave us the first half: "virtuous men are to peaceful death. But even while Donne is resolving one metaphor, he is already busy setting up his next one. He begins with a nature metaphor: "let us melt. The metaphors in line 6, though, keep us in nature, but move us to natural disasters: "tear-floods" and "sigh-tempests. Donne was a lawyer, so he is always on the lookout for a counter-argument.
The "laity" simply means lay people, commoners. No, Donne says. If we publicize the pain we feel at parting, it cheapens it. But in actuality, this is about preserving the meter of the poem. You can read all about iambic pentameter here , which simply has an extra two syllables. By combining it and were, Donne still gets his point across and the poem keeps its meter.
Donne refers to them, though, to emphasize their violence—earthquakes bring "harms and fears. Instead of the expected iambic rhythm da-DUM , we get "Moving. By opening the line with a stressed syllable, it packs a little more energy. Donne reminds us that all this talk about natural disasters is just a long-winded explanation of why it would be wrong to make a big show over his departure.
Here, he is saying that earthquakes cause mass confusion and panic. Lines But trepidation of the spheres, Though greater far, is innocent. Everything above the earth moved in spheres: the moon, planets, the stars and sun. The spheres were concentric—picture those Russian nesting dolls. Those spheres moved in their own patterns, but different motions, vibrations, and alignments created what they referred to as "celestial music" and that divine symphony controlled everything in the universe—from the creation of planets and stars to what you are going to eat for breakfast.
Now "trepidation" usually means to be afraid or anxious, but this older meaning actually means to make a literal trembling motion. So Donne is referring to the trembling motions and vibrations of the heavenly bodies. Looks like we may be off again on another metaphor. This one may take a while to unpack—stick with us. The two important points of the metaphor are in line First, the motion of the spheres is "greater far. An earthquake might shake stuff up for a little while, but the motions of the spheres controls all eternity—much bigger deal.
The second point in line 12 is that these motions unlike the earthquake are "innocent. We are innocent of these all-powerful forces. Earthquakes are all show, but the motions of the stars are subtle, quiet. Earthquakes, in other words, are shallow.
Stanza 4 moves us away from the natural disasters and is going to connect it back with his argument. Line 13 is a mini tongue-twister, with lots of playful L sounds twisting through it. We ought to start with an unstressed syllable here, but we hop right in with the thudding sound of "Dull. The parenthetical note really spells out what makes this type of love so wrong. With the alliteration of "Whose soul is sense," Donne explains that earthly lovers are only connected by earthly things, namely the five senses.
Line 14 ends with a cliffhanger. This is the first real enjambment of the poem, meaning a line break that also breaks up a continuing thought. The enjambment also allows for the more common definition of "admit": confess, to assert itself. Lines Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it. The first word of line 15 is like a punchline. First, we were waiting for the resolution to the previous line. Just tell us, already! Second, "absence" is another trochee , meaning a reversed iambic foot that puts the stressed syllable before the unstressed one.
This adds to the emphasis that we naturally feel. Because their physical desires started "elemented" their love, absence extinguishes it. In your face, shallow lovers. Donne returns finally! He reintroduces them "we" , but then immediately skips off again. Donne is sneaky again in line In line 16, he used the word "elemented" to mean "began.
With the word "refined" here, he very subtly prepares his audience for his next metaphor. May we submit a possibility? The line actually parallels the original metaphor—the earthquake and the motions of the spheres. The motions of the planets and stars, remember, was "innocent," undetected and unknown by anyone. Well, so is their love. It is so refined, so far above this world, that not even the poet himself knows what it is. Line 18 refers all the way back to line twelve to help the whole extended metaphor hold together.
That kind of staying power is a sure sign of a conceit. A couple of the central contrasts of the poem come into play in line Donne emphasizes that he and his beloved are connected by their minds. The other central contrast that is introduced here is hidden in that not-so-poetic phrase "inter-assured. He loves his wife, and he will miss her dearly. They just "care less" about missing each other physically than their spiritual connection. Notice in line 20 that Donne divides up the person into parts "eyes, lips and hands".
He is practically quoting the Old Testament book of Genesis here, which establishes marriage as making two individuals into one unit. He deliberately uses the words two and one in the same line to emphasize the confusing, mysterious force of wedded love. Line 22 gives us our second big enjambment , or harsh line break.
Lines A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to airy thinness beat. It fits perfectly. More than that, the enjambment itself made us feel a break in the grammar, which mirrors the meaning as well. How can a breach also be an expansion? The alliteration with rapid B sounds at the beginning of the line also contrasts with the long sound of the word "expansion. Gold is a soft metal, easy to hammer and work with. It can be hammered "beat" into super-fine gold foil, and a little bit can go a long way.
John Donne: Poems Summary and Analysis of "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"
Romantic, right? On the contrary, his love is like the unnoticed, subtle movements of the stars and planets that control the fates of every person well, according to popular belief. To further prove the greatness of their love, he gives his last metaphor: a mathematical compass—because nothing says sex appeal like mathematical apparatus. But he says that he and his wife are like a compass when drawing a circle. One foot of the compass Donne goes way out and travels around, while the other his wife stays planted at home and leans after it. But those two compass feet are part of one unit and will always end up back together. And we give props to anyone that can drop the microphone with that as a closing image.
A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
Buy Study Guide The poet begins by comparing the love between his beloved and himself with the passing away of virtuous men. Such men expire so peacefully that their friends cannot determine when they are truly dead. Other lovers become fearful when distance separates them—a much greater distance than the cracks in the earth after a quake—since for them, love is based on the physical presence or attractiveness of each other. Indeed, the separation merely adds to the distance covered by their love, like a sheet of gold, hammered so thin that it covers a huge area and gilds so much more than a love concentrated in one place ever could. He finishes the poem with a longer comparison of himself and his wife to the two legs of a compass. They are joined at the top, and she is perfectly grounded at the center point. As he travels farther from the center, she leans toward him, and as he travels in his circles, she remains firm in the center, making his circles perfect.