A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Questions and Answers
by John Donne

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What kind of language is used in the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning?" Is the language consonant with the figures of speech?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I find this question a bit confusing, as figures of speech are language. I interpret you to be asking, "is the literal meaning (subject) of the poem congruent with the figurative language Donne employs?"

Donne, like the other metaphysical poets, uses unusual figurative language to convey his ideas, leading Samuel Johnson famously to write of this school of poetry:

The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtilty surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.

This being said, I would argue that, although difficult, the figurative language in Donne's poem is congruent with his theme. Donne is saying, on the eve of going away on trip, that although their bodies will be far apart, he and his beloved will still be united because their souls are as one. Their love is more than physical: it...

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