A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne

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What are some comparisons in the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"?

What are some comparisons in the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"?

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Hillard Thiel eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a fun question because Donne's poem is nothing more than a series of comparisons, a progression of metaphors in search of the perfect metaphor for the speaker and his beloved's love. As he does in a few of his other poems (e.g., "Batter My Heart"), Donne constructs his poem as a dramatization of the difficulty of conveying this idea in words.

The dramatic setting of the poem is the speaker and his beloved about to part, presumably because he must leave on a journey while she remains at home. He wants to comfort her and to prevent her tears and concerns while they are apart.

To do this, he says tears are not appropriate for their love because it is not like ordinary love. To do this, he says their parting will be like the parting of soul from body in a virtuous man. He also says that it will be like ice that separates almost imperceptibly when melting or like the movement of planets which can be vast without causing superstitious fear (as is the case in earthquakes).

These thoughts lead the speaker to a consideration of different types of love, such as physical or metaphysical love. He claims they possess the latter:
But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
They are not like baser lovers who need physical contact to sustain their love.They are more like gold that is so refined as to contain nothing but pure essence. Like gold, their love can be stretched in wire without breaking, thus extending a long, long distance.
After all of these comparisons, each one a bit more extreme than the last (hence the nature of Metaphysical conceits) the speaker lands on what becomes the perfect image of their love: the twinned...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 639 words.)

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