If you were the woman addressed by the speaker in John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," how persuasive would you find his reassurances?
Donne apparently penned this for his wife, Anne, just prior to leaving England on a long journey to the Continent, during which he left her with their dozen children. I can see why Anne would be loathe to watch her husband, her parental partner, leave. However, I think I would—if the intended recipient were me—find some assurances in the poem (assuming I felt remotely comfortable caring for all those children by myself!). Donne describes how new lovers cannot withstand their partner's absence "because it doth remove / Those things which elemented" their love; he means that shallow lovers' romances cannot survive separations because the physical presence of the other is really the thing that they care for. I find this to be compelling because I have experienced both kinds of absences myself.
Moreover, the idea that the two who have long loved one another are like a mathematical compass (one holding the center steady while the other travels around it: the second can only return to where...
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