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A Valediction Forbidding Mouring - John Donne - Essay Example

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A Valediction Forbidding Mourning – John Donne John Donne was one of the great formative influences of the seventeenth century. His poetic innovations gave rise to new school of poetry, metaphysical school of poetry. A Valediction Forbidding Mourning was written by John Donne to his wife Anne when he left for France along with Robert Drury in November 1611…
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A Valediction Forbidding Mouring - John Donne
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A Valediction Forbidding Mouring - John Donne

This poem acclaimed for its beauty and strength of imagery. Coleridge describes it as an admirable poem which none but Donne could have written. Donne’s poems have a combat form. Though at first glance they appear jumpy and jerky,yet each poem is knit together by a central idea. The idea that unifies “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” is the superiority of Platonic love to physical love. In the first stanza, the reaction of laymen is to death is equated with the reaction of sensual lovers to separation. Virtuous men are not alarmed at the prospect of impending death. They regard death as a gate way to eternal life. Similarly the Platonic lovers are not at all disturbed by the prospect of separation. For, they know that physical separation will no way diminish their platonic love. On the other hand physical absences will only strengthen the Platonic bond of lovers. In the second stanza the poet goes on to explain how he differs from physical lovers. Lovers interested in physical pleasures weep noisily when they are torn apart from each other. The physical separation throws them into a paroxysm of grief. They shed a flood of tears and sigh violently. They grew hysterical at the thought of separation. But the poet is simply disgusted with such intense grief caused by physical separation. ...
The difference between once reaction to the earthquake and to the movement of the planetary bodies is cited as an analogue to the difference between the sensual lovers and the platonic lover’s attitude to the physical separation. The earth quake is a violent movement. It terrorizes people, because it causes havoc in their lives. . The platonic lover is in no way affected by physical absence, just as people are not affected by planetary bodies. The poet skillfully conveys the destructive nature of sensual love by associating it with th harmonious movement of heavenly spheres. In the next two stanzas, a conceit connected with alchemy is used by the poet to explain further the difference between sensual and platonic love. Alchemist tries to convert certain base elements into gold. All the dross is purged, and as a result of this refinement, gold is obtained. The sensual lover remains stuck up at the level of the base element, whereas the spiritual lover has refined the physical appetite with which he began and arrived at pure platonic love. The gold image further helps the pot to elaborate the concept of platonic love. Base metals break down, when beaten up or stretched. Similarly sensual love simply collapses when the sensual lovers separate. Gold, unlike base metals can be beaten up and extended endlessly in the form of infinitesimally thin wires. Similarly platonic love suffers no diminution when the lovers are far away from each other. Distance does not annihilate platonic love. In the last three stanza of the poem, the image of the compass is used to elucidate the role of a chaste wife in maintain a stable family. The wife, whose attachment to her husband is ... Read More
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