"A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" by John Donne:

Essay by sarah359 May 2006

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John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" is a poem written about a man who is explaining to his wife the state of their love and how it will be as he is preparing for a journey.

The title illustrates a farewell to the speaker's wife forbidding her to be unhappy and mournful at his depart. Donne compares the leaving to death of a man, but not as unfavorable because his absence is only temporary: "As virtuous men pass mildly away / and whisper to their souls to go... / Twere profanation of our joys / To tell the laity of our love" (1-8). The saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" parallels Donne's words closely. The title of the poem uses the word mourning, suggesting that his leaving could cause similar actions that accompany death and grief. Perhaps the speaker does not want to see his wife mourning his leave of absence, because it will make his departure harder for both of them: "No tear-floods or sigh-tempest move" (6).

The mere sight of his wife's tears and the heartbreaking sound of her sigh could hinder his departure. Donne speaks of how earthquakes are very destructive, but their time apart will be a constructive activity that will inevitably strengthen their relationship. In addition to earthquakes, Donne also compares their feelings to the movement of the planets, in that they will know it is taking place: "But trepidation of spheres / Though greater for, is innocent" (11-12). Donne depicts the strengthening of the couple's love by comparing it to someone hammering out gold. Their love may be stretched thin but it remains connected: "Not a breach, but an expansion / Like gold to airy thinness beat" (22-24).

Near the end of the poem, Donne indicates that the couple's...