There are many ways of finding ideal love. There is love that can be promising with no flaws and there is love that can be impossible to fine. John Donne wrote two poems that show a negative and a positive view on love. The “Song,” by Donne talks about the struggle of love in the narrator’s life and the view of women. It is a very short poem, but has a very powerful meaning towards women, that they are dishonest and are very deceiving. It has a very negative tone and he tends to exaggerate giving examples on how women are neither true nor fair. The “Valediction,” by Donne talks about their love being so powerful that nothing can separate their love. The meaning for the poem “Valediction,” is that if someone believes love will last, then it will continue. The tone of this poem is positive and uses many metaphors to explain his true love for his wife. In the “Song” and “Valediction” have different figures of speech that are used to show each narrators view on ideal love.
John Donne expresses tone in both poems that each show different meanings of love. Love can be negative or positive which can be seen in the tone of the narrators. The “Song”, shows vivid details that explains his negativity towards a woman. The chance to find love is impossible because every woman he sees or meets is not a true or faithful one. The narrator wants a woman that can be truthful in his daily life and be fair to him. John Donne uses tone that shows the love he is looking for is completely impossible. For example in the first stanza John Donne says, “Get with child a mandrake root”, which means to get a woman pregnant, but it is impossible to get a plant pregnant. Another example that the narrator says to make his tone sound annoyed is, “Teach me to hear mermaids singing,” is impossible for any human being to be allowed to hear mermaids sing. Mermaids do not exist in real life and if they could sing human society could not understand their language. The first stanza lists exaggerations of things to be impossible making the tone of the narrator irritated because there is no hope for him to find ideal love.
John Donne continues his negative tone in the second stanza by sharing with the audience more exaggeration on his feelings towards women. The narrator talks about living without love every single day, and how he will never find love as long as he lives throughout the stanza. Donne says, “Ride ten thousand days and nights, till age snow white hairs on thee,” exaggerating how he goes through each day not finding the love that he is longing for. Another example of the narrators negative tone in route for finding love is, “If thou be’st born to strange sights, Things invisible to see,” which means he could travel the world and see strange sights, but still couldn’t find “a woman true and fair.” The tone of the second stanza describes how hard it is to find true love.
The last stanza remains with a negative attitude. Even though he describes love as “pilgrimage were sweet,” he still feels as if love is false. “Though she were true, when you met her, And last, till you write your letter, Yet she Will be False,” this quote describes love always seeming true and wonderful at first, but to Donne, it always results in lies. The third stanza and the entire poem could describe Donne’s experience with love. His negative view would let the audience in on a hardship during his lifetime.
“A Valediction” by John Donne describes how love can endure anything, even a separation. The poem has a positive tone towards ideal love. He compares his love to things out of this world when saying, “But trepidation of the spheres Though greater far, is innocent.” Donne explains this love as being able to survive a separation because it is not earthly. Another example how strong this love is found in Donne stating, “But we by love so much refined, That ourselves know not what it is, Inter-assured of the mind, Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.” He describes their love as being so strong that it will even survive a separation of sexual gratification. John Donne describes there two lovers souls as being one. Their love will not separate and if they do, it will be for a short period of time because their love is too powerful.
The most powerful stanza in the entire poem talks about John Donne describing their love as a compass. They are each a “fixed root.” Therefore, when one moves, so does the other. Donne again describes them as always being together through this metaphor. Even going further it describes their distance as the shadow. Even as one moves, it creates a shadow that reaches and connects to the others. “Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun,” which describes their love as a circle for Donne to travel. He will always come back to where he left from. Their love will always make him return.
There are similarities and differences in both “Song” and “Valediction.” They are both written by John Donne and both discuss love, but they take different perspectives on the idea. Both poems are centered on very emotional feelings and love, either extreme hate or the true meaning of a good relationship. “Song” describes Donne’s negative feeling of love. He describes how there is no true, good woman. “A Valediction” revolves around each other, how they can be separated because the love is so strong, and how he always comes home. Donne is known for his extreme writing, and these two poems show the audience both ends of his spectrum of emotion for love.
Donne, John. "Song." Poems of John Donne. N.p., n.d. Web.
12 Dec 2012.