Before we enter into the Poem A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning () we can talk a bit about the author. John Donne, was born in 1572 and was died in 1631, is one of the England’s most innovative poets. He was born into a Roman catholic family. He studied in both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He read widely in medicine law classics and religion but he couldn’t take any degree. Because being a catholic.
John Donee as a prolific writer, wrote in numerable songs, sonnets and divine poems. Donne married to 17 year old Anne More and ended up in a financial struggle, he was imprisoned and dismissed from his job.
Donne wrote the poem A Valediction forbidding Mourning in 1611 to comfort his wife when he traveled to France on a government business. While she remained at home in Landon. He wrote this poem to console and encourage his beloved wife even in his absence, as he is going for a long journey.
Summary and Analysis the poem A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning is a popular metaphysical poem written by John Donne. Famous for it’s usage of Metaphysical conceits. The poem starts with a a power full line “As virtuous men pass mildly away“. This line implies to a shocking picture of a man in his death bed and his friends are gathered around him. But his wife is unemotional. She doesn’t make any noise, or weep.
John Donne compares this situation with his on departure from his wife as part of his job. He criticizes such expectation and he forbids his wife from mourning on his valediction. He says Virtuous men pass mildly, this means virtuous people won’t cry even at their death. Death is a farewell forever. But when John Donne’s departure is considered, it’s only for a few months, it’s sure he will comeback. By pointing to the virtuous men pass away poet tell his beloved not to cry. It comes clear in the following lines
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move
These lines are Donne’s powerful lines aroused from his love. He suggest his wife that they can melt into one soul, one heart. There’s no scope for Tear-floods and Sign-tempests. Tear-flood is a metaphysical element used to show her endlessly showering tears. The Sign-tempest is used to indicate the depth of her weeping. She weep and sigh with tears, but John Donne doesn’t want to pollute their love with these actions. To Donne, their love must be Holly, and Pure.
He again make many metaphorical and metaphysical comparisons to prove their love is somewhat holly. Their love is compared with ordinary peoples’ love. The ordinary people lose their love when they depart each other. But the spiritual love like poets’s love, never lose its intensity as their love is not physical. No need of physical presence to cherish their love.
In the next stanza Donne uses the trepidation of the spheres and the movement of earth as the next metaphysical element to compare with their spiritual love. Trepidation means the trembling movements of earth and spheres. It’s horrible still we never feel calmness and innocence. Poet tellls her beloved to be “Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss”. Their love is something refined from ordinary.
Poet then compares his spiritual love with the Gold, a metaphysical element. When gold is beaten, it becomes Airy thin and it should not break. Like Gold, Donne’s and his wife’s love expands over distance, it never breaks even they are physically separated. Using such metaphysical symbols Donne tries to prove their love as Holly.
The next stanza again makes another comparison in between their Spiritual Love and the conceit of Compass. The two foots of a compass is compared to their love. The one foot John Donne and the other is his beloved. Like compass does, one foot leans on another to finish a fine circle of life. The theme of completing a circle of life and the conceit of Compass are one of the very intellectual comparisons by John Donne. The two foot are needed to complete a perfect circle. One is fixed while another moves around it to create a circle.
The poem A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning ends with a request to his beloved wife
And makes me end where I begun.
The poem asks his beloved to be a fixed foot so that Donne can fulfill his mission, such like he finishes a circle on the compass of life.