Written in or for his wife Anne before he left on a trip to Continental Europe , "A Valediction" is a line love poem that was first published in the collection Songs and Sonnets , two years after Donne's death. Based on the theme of two lovers about to part for an extended time, the poem is notable for its use of conceits and ingenious analogies to describe the couple's relationship; critics have thematically linked it to several of his other works, including " A Valediction: of my Name, in the Window ", Meditation III from the Holy Sonnets and " A Valediction: of Weeping ". Donne's use of a drafting compass as an analogy for the couple—two points, inextricably linked—has been both praised as an example of his "virtuoso display of similitude",  and also criticised as an illustration of the excesses of metaphysical poetry; despite detractors, it remains "the best known sustained conceit" in English poetry. John Donne was born on 21 January to John Donne, a wealthy ironmonger and one of the wardens of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers , and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth soon remarried to a wealthy doctor, ensuring that the family remained comfortable; as a result, despite being the son of an ironmonger and portraying himself in his early poetry as an outsider, Donne refused to accept that he was anything other than a gentleman. After many demands, Egerton also consented to Donne's dismissal.
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Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. Donne's contemporary, the English writer Izaak Walton, tells us the poem dates from , when Donne, about to travel to France and Germany, wrote for his wife this valediction, or farewell speech. Like most poetry of Donne's time, it did not appear in print during the poet's lifetime. Save to Library. Create Alert.
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Life, Mind, and Art. Dearing Philosophy A Life Considered the definitive biography of Donne's life and time. Allen Tate Essays of Four Decades Related Papers.
A Valediction : Forbidding Mourning : Summary Lines 1-6 Summary
It was penned before he left on a trip to Europe. Donne has also structured this piece with a consistent pattern of rhyme, following the scheme of abab. In regards to meter, Donne chose to use iambic tetrameter. This means that each line contains four sets of two beats. Generally, the first of these is unstressed and the second stressed. There are a few moments though where this reverses and instead the first syllable is stressed trochaic tetrameter.
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
The poet begins by comparing the love between his beloved and himself with the passing away of virtuous men. Such men expire so peacefully that their friends cannot determine when they are truly dead. Earthquakes bring harm and fear about the meaning of the rupture, but such fears should not affect his beloved because of the firm nature of their love. Other lovers become fearful when distance separates them—a much greater distance than the cracks in the earth after a quake—since for them, love is based on the physical presence or attractiveness of each other. Indeed, the separation merely adds to the distance covered by their love, like a sheet of gold, hammered so thin that it covers a huge area and gilds so much more than a love concentrated in one place ever could. He finishes the poem with a longer comparison of himself and his wife to the two legs of a compass.
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne: Summary and Analysis
John Donne, a 17th-century writer, politician, lawyer, and priest, wrote "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" on the occasion of parting from his wife, Anne More Donne, in Donne was going on a diplomatic mission to France, leaving his wife behind in England. A "valediction" is a farewell speech. This poem cautions against grief about separation, and affirms the special, particular love the speaker and his lover share. Like most of Donne's poems, it was not published until after his death. Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.