Critical Appreciation of A VALEDICTION: FORBIDDING MOURNING by John Donne.

John Donne


Consider the poem is the compass one where he compares a compass to his love with his wife and but it's certainly not the only conceit in the poem, it's very complex and so let's get into it now in terms of the title of the palm in contrast to the to the palm itself is actually pretty straightforward, very literal so a valediction is a farewell it's a speech a palm a meaningful farewell but this one is a farewell that should not be mourned there should be no sadness no tears this one is this got to be a celebration even though done is going away on to into Europe for a fair bit of time leaving his wife and his family behind. They're not allowed to be sad that they should be celebrating what they have and done explains why so it's very much now this problem is very much an argument like many of nuns policy likes to argue a point so we'll get started the first stanza done asks us to jump into this analogy which is that of a man or several men in several rooms dying so you can imagine you know a deathbed a man's lying on it and his friends or family are standing around very sadly looking at him so but unwise to tell us that this is these are men who have lived life to the full the virtuous men that been very good men and because of that they don't have any regrets and they pass mildly away so they all die so meekly so quietly that they're sad friends don't even know when they did so the breath goes now and say no so some someone says all you know is he dead yet someone says no I don't think so I think he's still breathing they passed so mildly that it's almost hard to know when the point of death is this is very strange way to start a love poem but this is done so let's get on to it so stands at two is related to stanza one obviously so the words so here lets us know this so he gives us this analogy and then he explains it here so let us melt now the word melt here refers very much to the movement of melting so not really a you know piece of butter bubbling away on a pan this is the idea that if you melt you move so slowly that gradually after a period of time there's nothing left and there has been no noise and no overt movement and so Dunn's asking for their goodbye to being like that without any fanfare and without any great sadness or tears and he say here make no noise no tear floods North side tempest smooth. He doesn't want any great demonstrations of emotion here because he says if we do that tour and we let everybody know the lady which is the common air is everybody around us for profanation of our joys to tell the lady alone. If we let everybody know that I'm going. 

It's all sad it would be a desecration a defilement it would cheapen us we're above all this we don't need to carry on about it is what I love is stronger than this is what he's telling us just as these virtuous good men died so mildly because they don't have any regrets they pass without any demonstration of emotion good and then so that's that first consent then done moves on to another one a very interesting one actually he says moving of the earth brings harms and fear so moving in the earth is an earthquake and harms and fears are the obvious farms and fears that an earthquake would bring men reckon what it did and met so many understand earthquakes and they understand the damage and that they can they can bring but he says but trepidation of the spheres though greater farm is innocent now this is a strange one but what it means is it's an illusion of course to this age of discovery we're through the development of the telescope people are over to look in the into the heavens and understand that there is a great trepidation in the in the atmosphere their stars and movement of planets and asteroids and comets and this is a far greater force going on up in the atmosphere up in the inner cosmos but it doesn't because it's so far away and because it's removed from the everyday from the everyday people then it seems innocent it seems as though it's nice not such a big deal so even though it's far greater than a mere earthly earthquake. It doesn't affect the average people it is what it can live in in the cosmos without affecting the common man all right and then done.

It continues on by saying dull sublunary lovers love whose soul is set cannot admit absence so just like his love would be the enormous power of the cosmos and the love of the average person would be like an earthly earthquake his love is greater because it's a love not of this world it's a love beyond the world and why do these lovers not cope with absence like he and Ann are going to be able to cope with because their love is sensory they cannot admit absence because it does remove those things which element it is so, in other words, their love is very much associated with the physical that physical connection and done saying look our love is greater than this we don't. Yeah we, I'm sure you hear young he wanted he won't deny the physical side of his relationship with his wife but he's telling us to her that he doesn't need that neither of them needs that to maintain their great love their love goes beyond it it's a spiritual love it can exist in absence but other people because their loves are not as grand not as developed not as spiritual can't admit absence. They can't go away for long periods and stay in love with each other all right so very interesting explanation of this elaborate concede here of the difference between an earthly earthquake and a cosmic event far above the earth that's far more far greater in power but has a very little impact on the average person alright. So that is stanzas 1 through 4 so let's go to 5 but we buy a love so much refined and what he's doing is he's explaining or he's going further than stanza for him but we buy love so much refined that ourselves know not what it is and so he's saying that our love is so refined so developed so spiritual that it is even too much for us under to understand this is where the metaphysical realm comes in he's saying that their love is even moved  beyond their own comprehension interest ORD of the mind care fewer eyes lips and  hands to miss so he's saying because it's such a cerebral love such a such a  love of the mind and of the of the intellect they don't need eyes lips and hands they can be happy just in that knowledge that they love each other so done continue continues with his argument our two souls therefore which are one now two souls cannot be won mathematically but of course this is one of Dunn's paradoxes in love which he loved he'd tends to love these paradoxes. So I would  certainly note down that technique that he's used it to souls therefore which are one and he uses this of course in good-morrow where the two hemispheres become one sphere and therefore they're perfectly affected and so the same idea exists here though I must go in do not yet a  breach but an expansion so he's arguing that don't think that something is broken because I'm not here think of our love as expanding it has gone beyond what it is here and it'll be even larger the distance will make it even greater like gold to Aerith in this beat so gold is a substance.

When you beat it and it can be it can be made enormous into gold film and gold plate things like that so a small piece of gold can be spread out to cover a far greater area so again another can see the gold spread over a wider area maintains its beauty and maintains its value good so moving on we're getting there and honestly there's been probably three or four conceits one after the other the done uses to try and get his point across that thank you said it's fine we're going to be wonderful because our love is greater than anybody else's and it will be even stronger because of the distance between us alright so he carries on this paradox if they be two there are two so as stiff two encompasses our two so this two into one he explains with this famous compass can  see so even though our compass let's have a look at the top has two feet it's joined at the top into one this is what he's referring to so if they be two there are two so as  stiff twin compasses are to thy soul the fixed foot so an is the fixed foot she's that she's the one who stays in the house and she stays in the center of the circle makes no show to move but doth if the other do so the leg in the middle of the compass turns when the outside leg of the compass creates the circle so therefore whatever he does she will work in tandem with him but obviously over a wide distance so it's a lovely it's a lovely metaphor a lovely conceit where even though there's distance between them they are still joined.

It's to say that you know the center foot moves as the as the outside foot of the compass moves it leans and reacts as the outside leg of the compass changes its distance and so forth  and as the outside leg comes towards it  just as down done this coming home both  legs end up straightening up and joining together. So this word erect I'm in Dunn's famous free sexual allusions but I think in this situation I don't think we should read too much into that I think it is as it is I don't I think we should take that literally without the double meaning because it's referring to his wife and then he gives her praise now for her steadfastness and tells her that such steadfastness is what keeps him keeps him strong and just so it's such wilt they'll be to me who must like the other foot obliquely run  so he's saying you will be the compass for me you will be the bear, you'll be the person who's holding me to the circle and he says thy firmness makes my circle just and makes me and where I began so he's saying her position as his wife her love her steadfastness in holding the home together keeps him just keeps him from straying and it will bring him home again it's what it's what gives his life meaning and it will bring him back to where he built that where he belongs so it's a really lovely metaphor the done uses to finish off here and so we've got you the conceit of the old man we've got the conceit of the trepidation of the spheres we've got the conceit of the gold and then we've got the conceit of the paradox of the two Souls becoming  one and then he expands that into the into the compass how the two twin legs of the compass are joined and so become one so very elaborate palm can see after can see but you've got a we're going to understand that this is a palm we're done is arguing his point obviously swore if he's probably not particularly happy about him heading off to Europe for a whole day and leaving her behind with all the kids and he's trying to argue his case he's saying look don't worry about this this farm where our love is going to be even greater because of the distance so have no fear and I'll be coming home and because you're here and keeping things together it's going to keep me just and true and I'll be back before you know it so it's a very when you look at it in those terms it's such a natural human response to going away it's a sort of argument anyone would use if they had to leave their family behind for a period of time alright so that is valediction forbidding mourning.
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