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The theme of the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" is the inseparability of true lovers even when they are physically separated. To prove the point the poet piles up a number of arguments. This is a common love theme of John Donne as of other metaphysical poets. This kind of love is the love of the mind and has nothing to do with the joys of sex. The souls of the true lovers are one and, therefore, a temporary separation cannot cause a breach of love. Absence extends the domain and expanse of love.

The theme has been presented by evocative arguments in association with far-fetched and fantastic conceits drawn upon geology, natural calamities astronomy, geometry, etc. The poem is astonishingly witty and, at the same time, movingly tender poem. There is neither any mockery nor any touch of cynicism. Since the poet is bidding his beloved farewell, his tone is gentle and sincere. The poem is a love-lyric, though it is far away from the warbling simplicity of most Elizabethan words for music.What makes the poem remarkable is the use of far-fetched conceits producing images of astonishing verity; First, there is an image of death, for parting is a kind of death. The poet says that when virtuous people die, they do not mourn or grieve. Rather they die gladly, for they know that death is a gateway to heaven. The poet convinces his beloved saying that as the virtuous man's soul part from his body, so should the lovers part from each other. There must be no floods of tears, or tempests of sighing. Their love is something sacred and spiritual and therefore they must not defile their love by weeping or mourning as ordinary people do.In the next stanza, we find an image what Dr.Johnson defines as the most heterogeneous elements, "yoked violently together." The images of earthquakes and the movements of the spheres are brought into the background. Moving of the earth, as during an earthquake, causes harm and gives rise to great fears. People may calculate the damages caused by an earthquake but the movement of the spheres, though much greater, causes no damage, and people are not afraid of it, because they are not aware of it. Trepidations of the spheres are, of course, immensely greater or more powerful than the disturbance created by an earthquake but since they are part of the heavenly order, they are innocent. The poet's love, greater than that of ordinary mortals, is both celestial and innocent. To make the point clear, the poet likens their separation to the movement of the spheres. This movement is more violent than that of the earth during an earthquake, and still it does not cause any injury or harm. Similarly, their spiritual love is not affected by any movement or separation. It is only earthly or physical love which breaks and cracks when there is separation.
critical evaluation of the poem, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

The contrast between earthly love and spiritual love is further elaborated in the remaining stanzas, and the eternity of spiritual love is asserted. Physical and sensuous love cannot endure the withdrawal of the physical self of the object of love, because it is based on her physical beauty. But spiritual love is of the souls, and is not affected by the presence or absence of the beloved. The conceit or "gold to airy thinness beat" is then brought in to establish that true love does not break by separation, but undergoes an expansion and grows ethereal and refined like gold, when it is beaten. Spiritual love like gold is infinitely elastic and precious.

The superiority of this spiritual love is further illustrated by bringing in the famous conceit of the pair of compasses. The lovers are limited together spiritually even when they are separated physically, just as the two legs of a compass are united at the top. The lover may go out for some time, but he is bound to return home, if the beloved is faithful and loyal to him, just as the moving foot of the compass returns to the centre after completing the circle.

Further, the poem illustrates the argumentative quality of much of Donne's verse. The poem is a good example of the blending of emotion and intellect.

As for metrical pattern, the poem consists of nine quatrains with the lines rhyming alternately. The lines are written in iambic tetrameter with several variations. As a love-lyric, the poem creates an exceptional type of melody. The diction of the poem is simple, although there are several marks of obscurity, produced as a result of unusual and fantastic analogies.

To sum up, "A Valediction : Forbidding Mourning", may be estimated as one of the best love-lyrics of Donne. It gives at once his concept of love, his vast learning, habit of argumentation in association with unusual conceits and hyperboles. By virtue of a good theme, imagery being blended with emotion, vision of a spiritual love and lyrical grace, the poem is a unique creation of Donne in the field of metaphysical poetry.


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