A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 2

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Donne’s powerful abstract conceit in “A Valediction: Forbidding mourning”, ‘as stiff twin compasses are two’ astonishes readers of the deep and thoughtful analysis of an everyday object which is typical of Donne’s intellectual approach to such concerns as love, companionship and death. The poem begins with a struggle of breath as the reader is forced to pause momentarily as commas and columns are intentionally used to draw a halt, ‘the breath goes now, and some say, no:’ echoing the breathing patterns of a dying man. Although the poem begins in a mournful tone it develops into a comforting acceptance of an evitable fate. For all his erotic carnality in poems such as “The flea”, Donne professed a devotion to a kind of spiritual love that transcended the merely physical. Here, anticipating a physical separation from his beloved, he invokes the nature of that spiritual love to ward off the ‘tear-floods’ and ‘sigh-tempests’ that might otherwise attend on their farewell. Although dealing with a significantly contrasting idea of how to endure a separation from a lover we feel a heartfelt, ‘so let us melt’, emotional alternate to what is usually a sad and miserable parting. Donne’s beautiful conceit of gold which is like ‘airy thinness’ evokes for readers a compelling image that is precious and valuable and is an unimaginable association to symbolize the unity between Donne and his wife, as we imagine their soul that they share simply stretching to take in all the space that is between them. Like many of Donne's love poems (including "The Sun Rising" and "The Canonization"), "A Valediction: forbidding Mourning" creates a dichotomy between the common love of the everyday world and the uncommon love of the speaker. The ‘hearkens’ of his lover as she ‘leans’ and circles around him creates a sense of eternal emotional connectedness, ‘ and grows erect, as that comes home’. This image causes us to linger over the unusual although consoling comparison. We sense Donne has...
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