John Donne Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

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Carrie Stallings
Honors English 10
Mrs. Graham
April 25, 2013
The Miles Between
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

Sometimes, life is full of moments when we must do without, when we must sacrifice, and because of that, suffer. This is well known to those of us who must be apart from the people we care about. We as humans search for escape, and often use the distraction offered by loved ones to do so. When we are apart from them, it’s difficult to escape when you are burdened by the fact that they, in some sense, are no longer there. I can say that though I experience situations such as these with family members and my boyfriend of two years, the love, as a consequence, is stronger, and the moments we’re together are held even more precious. I’ve learned that the physicality of love isn’t necessary for it to be “real”. No, for the love to be real, it only needs to be felt on an emotional and spiritual level. It only needs to be true. There is nothing else that exemplifies such feelings and situations than poetry- words written that could never be said aloud. John Donne does so effectively in his poem “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”. Valediction comes from the Latin verb valedicere, meaning to bid farewell, the context of the poem. Through beautiful language and structured form, he speaks of the troubles of love and loss, the physicality of love, and how emotionally the person you care about is always there, and all of it changes and effects the people involved. John Donne’s “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” mirrors situations in my own life concerning love and separation. However, it conquers them by conveying an effective message: that real, “whole” love is not of the bodies, but of the souls. The definition of love has always been sought out; all have been in search for the perfect “equation”, the way to make it add up...
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