Critical Analysis of a Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne
This is a personal poem showing the pure love and devotion (dedication) of the poet to his beloved. Donne has contracted with different moods of love and has played with its several visions. Here, he has taken positive and serious view of love. Many people think that the poem is addressed to his wife Anne More. His wife was in a bad state of health.
The main idea is that the poet’s love does not delay with the lives of others and so why should they take exception to it.
He compares separation with death. He also urges that good men are not afraid of death like good men true lovers are not afraid of separation. This is not a farewell of death, but an explanation of true and dedicated love, because it is not based on sex or physical attraction.
Coleridge thinks that, “it is an admirable poem which none but Donne could have written. Nothing was more admirably made than the figure of compass.” Dr. Johnson disliked the image of a man that travels and his wife stays at home, it may be doubted whether illogically has the better claim.”
The Paradox: Donne deals with physical love as if it were divine (heavenly, godly, great) love. The love of Donne for his beloved causes no damage to the society or to the world. They have lost the world but gained more in the world of each other. The lovers are devoted to each other as a saint is devoted to God. Some people may regard it as paradox of Christian Canonization, but there is no doubt that the tone of the poem is both serious and convincing (undoubted, definite).
Development of Thought:
Love is Harmless: Above all, the poet’s love does not cause any harm or damage to anyone. It does not disturb the even flow of social life. His profession is love and so nobody should object to it.
Pure Love: the lovers cannot define the nature and essence of their pure love. It is a refined love of the mind and has nothing to do with the joys of sex. Their souls are one.
A Pair of Compasses: Donne applies the conceit of “twin compasses”. Their souls may be two but they are united at a center like the two sides of compass. The soul of his beloved is like the fixed foot of the compass as she stays at home and his soul is like the other foot of the compass which moves in a circle.
Life Beyond Death: The poet and his beloved are prepared to die for love if they cannot live by love. They will attain the status of saints of love. People will copy their love and regard it as a model.