Main Themes In A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Poem

A Valediction: forbidding Mourning

“A Valediction. forbiddingMourning” is Donne’s most well-known, yet simple poem. This is his best-known expression of his ideal spiritual love. Donne, however, does not profess a devotion only to the physical. This poem is about a persona anticipating a physical separation from his lover. Donne invokes the nature and power of spiritual love to protect them from any possible “tearfloods”, “sigh-tempests” or other unpleasant events that could occur on their farewell. The poem is composed of a series metaphors and analogies that each describe ways they can look at the separation to help them avoid the sorrow for which the title of the poem prohibits.

The persona begins by explaining that they should say goodbye as gently as the uncomplaining death of virtuous people. Their love for one another is not solely physical. Their separation, unlike the trepidation caused by the spheres will not cause an earthquake. The outer foot’s inner foot draws a perfect circle because of the firmness of its center foot.

The persona declares that because the lovers’ souls are one, their departure will not cause a split between them. Donne compares it to the way gold can be stretched “to aery thinness”. Donne adds that their souls can be stretched by beating it “to aery thinness”. This metaphor of a compass shows how a persona’s relationship with his partner cannot be “perfect”. It also shows his love for him. Donne’s most well-known metaphor is the compass. It is the perfect symbol to sum up Donne’s spiritual love.

Similar to the movie “The Sun Rising”, “A Valediction forbidding Myrrh” presents a contrast between the ordinary love of the people and the rare love of this persona. At this point, the persona claims to have told “the laity”, or the common people, about his love. This is clearly condescending to the sublunary, dull love of other lovers. This dichotomy serves to create an emotional aristocracy. Donne’s emotional aristocracy shows their love and the fact that his travels won’t affect it in any way.


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