In Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Topics: Metaphysical poets, Poetry, John Donne Pages: 5 (1545 words) Published: May 17, 2013
In Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, please explain the conceit in the poem, which is found in stanzas 7 - 9.

John Donne cleverly uses one of the most famous of metaphysical conceits in stanza seven of "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." A metaphysical conceit is like an extended metaphor, in which the poet compares to extremely different objects; usually the comparison involves an abstract concept or emotion, like love, and some other completely random object.

John Donne's conceit in stanza seven definitely features a completely random object to be making an appearance in a love poem-- a compass! Here, Donne compares the lovers' souls to the points of a compass:

"Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do."

Donne's elegant conceit is both ingenious and moving. He uses the physical object to show the heart-felt closeness of the two lovers; "when the other far doth roam, It leans, and hearkens after it."

Discuss the central message of "A Valediction: Forbidding mourning???."

I would argue that the overwhelming central message of this excellent poem regards the love that the speaker has for his wife, and the way that their years together have forged a kind of connection that is more spiritual than physical. The way in which the poem presents their love as being a force that cannot be separated, even by death itself, is incredibly moving, and forces us to think about the nature of love and how it endures even in the face of darkness and death. One of the most striking and beautiful images of this poem helps us to understand the special nature of the love between the speaker and his wife, who possess a love that is "so much refined":

If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two,

Thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show

To move, but doth, if th'other do.

By describing their souls as being like the two feet of a compass, the speaker makes it clear of the kind of union that characterises their relationship. Even when the two feet are apart and separate, they are united, and this unity is shown in the way that, when the other foot "far doth roam," the foot that remains in one place "leans, and hearkens after it / And grows erect, as that comes home." The overwhelming message of this poem therefore concerns a love that is so based in unity and trust that even death itself cannot separate the two souls of the speaker and his wife.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The subject of the simile about metallurgy begun in line 17 is the refining of gold, in which all dross and impurities are removed and only the purest and most valuable gold remains. The speaker also refers to the malleability of gold to suggest that even when lovers are apart they are still united, just like a sheet of delicate gold foil (line 24) that stretches between the loved ones so that they are still and always connected to each other. This metaphor supports the conviction that this love is deep and lasting; not merely valuable as some readers who have not digested all of the previous stanzas will reply.

Explain the conceit in lines 25-36 of "A Validation" and what suggests about love.

A conceit is an extended, clever metaphor that is usually considered pushed to its end degree. In "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," Donne is speaking to his wife, whom he must leave to go on a trip abroad. Throughout the poem he has used a variety of metaphors to explain that he and his wife's love is superior to everyone else and that it can more easily undure a separation, because it is so strong.

He uses a conceit in the last three stanzas of the poem to better illustrated how their relationship works. He says, if we are two people, then let us be two like the two legs a compass. (The kind of compass you would use to draw a perfect circle.) He explains that he is the fixed foot in the center -- it...
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