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The portrayal of love in a valediction - Forbidding mourning.

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Bevin-Alexis Barr 1 Mary Chan English 101 H4 The Portrayal of Love in A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning There are many types of love in the world, each special, delicate, and held in their own unique way. In John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", the love that the two people experience is transcendent, knowing no confines of time and space as most ordinary love does. This love is everlasting; nothing can break it, not time or space. Donne's use of diction, imagery, and metaphysical conceits invoke powerful images of the portrayal of love, and the different forms love can take. Donne's chief literary device in his portrayal of love is imagery. The passing of "virtuous men" evokes a sense of being physically separated from the living realm (1), while their loved ones argue the validity of their deaths; are they truly dead, or do their spirits live on? This first stanza of "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" brings to question what love really is. ...read more.


The imagery in the poem is vivid, capturing the image of love that Donne pursues, the image of a spiritual love that is limitless. Diction is also important to Donne's portrayal of love. These lovers need not make, "tear-floods, nor sigh tempests move," as their love needs no expression (6). Just as the "trepidation" of the heavens goes unnoticed when compared to earthquakes (11), so does the mourning of the lovers' separation because they only miss half of their love, while others miss all of it when the physical proximity to the mate is removed. Unlike "dull sublunary lover's love/ (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit/ Absence..." the two lovers' love exists on a higher plane (13-15). Their love is not purely physical but also mental and spiritual, thus they can stand to be away from each other for extreme lengths of time. Donne speaks of souls and the need to "Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss", portraying the idea that those who possess a spiritual love not only have that mental connection (20), but ...read more.


The image of the compass is also vivid, the lover's "fixed foot, makes no show/ To move", but does so in complete unison when the other end of the compass [the other lover] bids it to lean (27-28). The reference to the compass is very mechanical and even harsh, yet completely realistic because it is powerful in its image of connection. Nothing can break the "twin compasses" or the balance they possess (26). Donne sees love as something to be cherished and conveys this through his speaker's belief in love knowing no bounds, not even death. It is, however, ironic that he should choose to entitle the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", because a valediction is something that should not need to be voiced, much like the love that the speaker tells of. Donne sees love as something spiritual; nothing comes in its way, it cannot be maimed by absence nor can death kill it. Donne sees love as something that should be balanced and proportioned; neither aspect, the physical nor emotional, should have free reign over the other. ...read more.

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