What are the figures of speech of the poem, "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"?
There is actually a simile extending across the first two stanzas of this poem, although it may be a little difficult to spot, given that it begins with the opening "As . . . " and then resumes with the "So . . . " that begins the second stanza. Donne describes how "virtuous men pass mildly away," quietly, and then compares this to the situation he hopes will arise between himself and his love. As these men pass away quietly, "so let us melt, and make no noise." He uses the compound nouns "tear-floods" and "sigh-tempests" to allude to a metaphorical flood of tears or tempest of sighs, but begs that these should not arise, lest they be "profanation of our joys" in giving away the depth of the couple's love to "laity." The use of the words "profanation" and "laity" immediately suggests that the love is something holy, above the understanding of the "laity," or ordinary people.
The love between the two, indeed, is "refined," a word which can be applied to gold. Donne confirms that this is the comparison he is making when, later, he compares the space between them when he leaves to "an expansion," "like gold to airy thinness beat." Because their love is pure and "refined," like gold, it can be beaten out to an incredible thinness and stretched over a supposed "breach" without breaking.
Donne says that if two people in love are really two people (elision is used here, an omission of the implied second part of this thought: are two people in love really two people, or are they one?) they are like "stiff twin compasses." An extended metaphor then follows, in which Donne compares his love to "the fixed foot" of the compass, sitting in the middle while the other part of the compass, the arm, "far doth roam." Donne himself represents the moving part of the instrument; his lover "leans and hearkens" after him and then "grows...
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