“A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” is a metaphysical poem by John Donne. Written in or for his wife Anne before he left on a trip to Continental. A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by John Donne. A Valediction Forbidding Mourning Learning Guide by PhD students from Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley. As virtuous men pass mildly away, / And whisper to their souls to go, / Whilst some of their sad friends do say, / “The breath goes now,” and some say, “No,” / So.

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The stronger, she will be at the time of separation, the more his work will be fruitful.

Circles traditionally symbolize infinity, perfection, balance, joh, and cycles. Donne reached beyond the rational and hierarchical structures of the seventeenth century with his exacting and ingenious conceits, advancing the exploratory spirit of his time.

The beginning of the poem causes some readers difficulty because the first two stanzas consist of a metaphysical conceit, but we do not know that until the second stanza. Donne has found in his wife his soul-mate. Ann died in while giving birth to their twelfth child.

He begins by extending the weather imagery from the previous stanza: Summary and Analysis A very well-known mournig, A Valediction: And in next extended metaphor conceithe compares their souls to the compass where her soul is the fixed feet in the center of the compass and his soul is the foot that moves around the compass. This simple form is uncharacteristic for Donne, who often invented elaborate forbiddiing forms and rhyme schemes. The analogy here—of a compass in the process of drawing a circle—draws contrasts between the two lovers, where one is fixed and “in the centre sit[s]” while the other roams; despite this, the two remain inextricably connected and interdependent, staying inseparable despite the increasing distance between the two compass hands.


Theresa is overwhelmed with ecstasy because of her devotion to her lord. Fiery feeling alone will not accomplish anything. Donne uses gold imagery in the sixth stanza, which carries meaning on many levels.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne: Summary and Analysis

Donbe more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. But because Donne and his wife have a spiritual as well as physical dimension to their love, they will never really be apart, he says.

Because the leg of Anne’s compass remains firmly set in the center of the circle, she enables the leg of her husband’s compass to trace a circle and return to the place from which he embarked.

John Donne was one of England’s morning and most innovative poets. InJames I got his wish when Donne took holy orders and went on to become a prosperous emissary of the Church of England.

Baroque was the predominant influence in the seventeenth century, during which Donne wrote. To His Mistress Going to Bed. They bring about the changes of the seasons. Home Arts Educational magazines A Valediction: Theresa, in which St. Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the other do; And though it in the center sit, Yet when the other far doth roam, It leans, and hearkens after it, And grows erect, as that comes home.

Storms chafe, and soon wear out themselves, or us; In calms, Heaven laughs to see us languish thus.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne – Poems |

Thematically, “A Valediction” is a love poem; Meg Lota Brown, a professor at the University of Arizonanotes that the entire poem but particularly the compass analogy in the final three stanzas “ascribe to love valdiction capacity to admit changing circumstances without itself changing at the same time”.

The foe oft-times having the foe in sight, Is tired with standing though he never fight. Stanza 6 also presents a simile, comparing the expansion of their souls to the expansion of beaten gold. Therefore, when such lovers separate, they remove from each other the kourning basis of their love, which changes and fades like the moon.


A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Summary, Stanza 2 Well, Anne, because I will be in France and other countries for a time while you remain home in England, we must accept our separation in the same way that virtuous dying men quietly accept the separation of their souls from their bodies.

This movement of the planets, he points out, is certainly more powerful than something ordinary, such as an earthquake, an image that he likens to an obvious out-pouring of emotion. These lines suggest why he wants a quiet separation: Anne, you and I are like the pointed legs of a compass pictured at right in a photograph provided courtesy of Wikipediaused to draw circles and arcs.

However, the movements of the sun and other heavenly bodies trepidation of the spheres cause no fear, for such movements are natural and harmless. Off with that girdle, like heaven’s zone glistering, But a far fairer world encompassing.

John and Anne Donne. He offers his wife an alternative to thinking about their souls as one and the same.

Wikisource has original text related to this article: Instead, he leaves her the power of his poetic making. So, Donne continues, he and his wife should let their physical bond “melt” when they part line 5.

Works by John Donne. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Donne’s father-in-law disapproved of the marriage. At age twenty he studied law at Lincoln’s Inn.