Metaphysical Poets and Donne

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The poem tenderly comforts the speaker's lover at their temporary parting, asking that they separate calmly and quietly, without tears or protests. The speaker justifies the desirability of such calmness by developing the ways in which the two share a holy love, both sexual and spiritual in nature. Donne's celebration of earthly love in this way has often been referred to as the "religion of love," a key feature of many other famous Donne poems, such as "The Canonization" and The Ecstasy. Donne treats their love as sacred, elevated above that of ordinary earthly lovers. He argues that because of the confidence their love gives them, they are strong enough to endure a temporary separation. In fact, he discovers ways of suggesting, through metaphysical conceit, that the two of them either possess a single soul and so can never really be divided, or have twin souls permanently connected to each other. A metaphysical conceit is an extended metaphor or simile in which the poet draws an ingenious comparison between two very unlike objects. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" ends with one of Donne's most famous metaphysical conceits, in which he argues for the lovers' closeness by comparing their two souls to the feet of a drawing compass—a simile that would not typically occur to a poet writing about his lov This is a "classic" Donne poem. In it, he shows off his vast knowledge of everything from alchemy to astronomy, and puts his most famous technique, the conceit, to great use. There is a rumor that this poem was written by Donne to his wife, before he went away on a long holiday with his friends, leaving her at home. It is impossible to prove, and doesn't really matter. I will, however, refer to the two characters in the poem as Donne and his wife in these comments. Donne's basic argument was that most people's relationships are built on purely sensual things - if they are not together at all times, the relationship breaks down. Donne asserts that the love...
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