Why the title?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that Donne uses this title because it sums up the point that the speaker is trying to make.  It is telling the speaker's love that, although they are parting, there is no reason for sorrow because they will not truly be apart.

A valediction is a parting statement, something you say to someone as you and they are leaving one another, a farewell.  So this makes sense as a title because the lovers are being separated.

But in this poem, the speaker is saying that the two of them will not really be separated because their love will keep them in touch.  Therefore, the speaker is telling his love not to be sad -- he is forbidding mourning.

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epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Although “valediction” now suggests the valedictory addresses familiar at high school and college graduations, in this poem the word is to be taken literally, as the saying of a farewell. The speaker is speaking to his lady, to whom he is married or affianced, and who has apparently been “mourning” at the prospect of his departure. The poem is developed as a set of statements and arguments to deflect the listener’s crying and mourning. A trip at this time, would have been greatly lengthy and taken a long time, and could possibly have been a difficult trip and also one that might have been incredibly arduous.

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