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Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116 and Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning".

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Introduction

Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116 and Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" Brian Slobodian British Columbia Open University Assignment #2 Student # 100056594 March 8, 2004 Love is a common theme in many poems written by 17th century authors. Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116 and Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" both speak of the highest form of love; eternal true love. Their use of figurative language and rhythm schemes helps to convey to the reader that such a love exists. However, while both believe and speak passionately about true love, only the speaker in Donne's poem has experienced it, and therefore offers the reader hope for true and pure love. A summarization of both poems should help the reader understand this important difference. In laying forth their arguments for the existence of eternal true love, the authors share two main similarities; the structure of their poems and its message. The rhyme scheme in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116" consists of the use of several end-rhymes and eye-rhymes in alternating lines. ...read more.

Middle

As in "Sonnet 116", the speaker in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" also uses metaphors by comparing his love for his lover to a circle a compass makes, confirming that circles never end, so their love also never ends, "Thy firmness makes my circle just, / And makes me end where I begun." This gives the reader hope and confirms that no matter how great the time and distance between, true love will survive. To further develop their desired imagery, both poems utilize implied metaphors. In "Sonnet 116" the speaker says, "Love's not times fool, though rosy lips an cheeks within his bending sickles compass come" and "bears it out even to the edge of doom." He is saying that true love is beyond physical beauty, and time and aging can not dissolve it, true love lives unaffected for eternity. The speaker in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" furthers this point by describing gold being beaten and hammered until it is fragile and thin, but still has the same value it did before it was stretched, "Like gold to aery thinness beat." ...read more.

Conclusion

As we have seen both poems establish common ground on the nature of true love. They tell us though the use of figurative language what true love is; a love that's beyond the physical, a timeless union that will always stay constant in the heart of even a lost soul. They also tell the reader what isn't; it does not "admit impediments", it is not susceptible to time and knows no distance. However, while both speak passionately about true love, what differentiates the two is the fact that the speaker in Donne's poem has experienced true love. For him it is not merely an idea, nor a theory. He believes in it because he possesses it, which may explain the varying emotions brought out by the poem. The speaker in Shakespeare's poem lacks this experience; he has never been exposed to the union of "true minds" and therefore speaks only about what he believes to be true and not what knows to be true. Donne offers hope for true and pure love; as someone who has found a life partner who shares his values. ...read more.

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