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A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning. By John Donne. Michael Fernando Michelle Guzman Stephanie Parrado Melissa Simpson. ]. The key condition for a peaceful death was a " virtuous” life. Because they didn't have any regrets or guilt weighing them down..

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a valediction forbidding mourning

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

By John Donne

Michael Fernando

Michelle Guzman

Stephanie Parrado

Melissa Simpson



The key condition for a peaceful death was a "virtuous” life. Because they didn't

have any regrets or guilt weighing them down..

Donne was so fascinated by death because he believed that was the point at which the body and soul parted ways. In this case, the dying man is able to whisper his soul out of his mortal body and on to heaven.

Donne contrasts earthly natural disasters with the bigger, grander motions of the heavenly bodies (planets, stars, moons). He was most likely influenced by his surroundings. He lived in an age of discovery, an age in which people were thinking and theorizing beyond their technology.

As virtuous men pass mildly away,And whisper to their souls, to go,Whilst some of their sad friends do say,'The breath goes now,' and some say, 'No:‘ 4

So let us melt, and make no noise,No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;'Twere profanation of our joysTo tell the laity our love. 8

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;Men reckon what it did, and meant;But trepidation of the spheres,Though greater far, is innocent. 12.



Dull sublunary lovers' love (Whose soul is sense) cannot admitAbsence, because it doth removeThose things which elemented it. 16 But we by a love so much refin'd,That ourselves know not what it is,Inter-assured of the mind,Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. 20Our two souls therefore, which are one,Though I must go, endure not yetA breach, but an expansion,Like gold to airy thinness beat. 24

Even though in this case "elemented" means 'started' or 'sparked,' the word itself prepares us for the upcoming metaphor about gold.



Scientists worked endlessly to purify their metals, trying to burn off any impurity. Donne is saying that his love is pure, that it isn't tainted with mere physical affection.

As it turns out, gold is a soft metal compared to others. It can be beaten into a fine foil so that just a little bit of pure gold will stretch a long way. Obviously, that's how Donne sees his love.



If they be two, they are two soAs stiff twin compasses are two;Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no showTo move, but doth, if the' other do. 28And though it in the centre sit,Yet when the other far doth roam,It leans, and hearkens after it,And grows erect, as that comes home. 32Such wilt thou be to me, who mustLike th' other foot, obliquely run;Thy firmness makes my circle just,And makes me end, where I begun 36


First, compasses are firm or "stiff." They do their job and don't flinch. Second, they are two separate pieces that are permanently joined together to accomplish great things.

Donne claims that his wife is like the center, "fix'd" foot of the compass that stays rooted while the other runs away. It remains right there, providing stability and certainty to the circle.

He shifts back to himself and applies the symbol of the other foot to himself. That's the part of the compass that leaves and traces the circle. At every point, he emphasizes that his wife (the center foot) is what is responsible for everything turning out right

interesting title
Interesting title
  • Valediction (noun): farewell speech: a statement, speech, or letter of farewell
    • John Donne bids farewell to his beloved.
    • Donne is straight to the point in saying this is a valediction, or a separation.
    • The second half of the poem title is Donne giving the reader clues into his deliberate efforts to go against the traditional goodbye.  
analysis overview
Analysis overview
  • The poem is essentially a farewell letter to the speakers beloved
  • In the first stanza, the image of a man on his deathbed surrounded by his friends as they argue about whether or not he has taken his final breath
  • By stanza two the metaphor is tied together to the entire point of the poem, it explains how their parting should be similar to the death of an elderly man, unnoticeable without the drama of “tear-floods” or “sigh-tempests” and how it would cheapen their love to announce the separation
analysis overview cont
Analysis Overview (cont…)
  • Stanza three goes on to compare two types of love, the one he has with his lover and another, more dramatic love by comparing an earthquake to the movement of the universe. One is loud and not very lasting where as the other is eternal and completely innocent from the senses of others.
  • The fourth, fifth, and sixth segment finish up the previous metaphor by stating that their love is more than just physical, it is mental and can continue despite vast distances between them unlike shallow lovers whose entire relationship is based on the 5 senses. Their souls are one, which makes that type of bond hard to break, like how gold can be stretched very thin and not break
analysis cont for last time
Analysis (cont…for last time)
  • The seventh, eighth and ninth stanza continues a comparison of a compass leg to his wife as he describes how although one is fixed in the center, it leans towards the other, tall and strong until he arrives again. It also relates back to the situation at hand, how they have to be strong , soon enough he’ll be right back where he belongs.
  • Death:

Donne compares the depart from his loved one to death. However, in this instance, death is a peaceful and welcome thing.. Even though their parting will feel a little like a death, their love is so pure, powerful, and good that they can endure it gently, without any outward sorrow.

  • Gold

Really, this is about the leftover obsession from medieval days with alchemy, or the attempt to transform other metals into gold. Scientists (or pseudo-scientists) made some of the most important chemical discoveries in their unending quest to perform wizardry that would make them rich. A lot of the poetry of the time (and a lot of Donne's poems) deal with working with precious metals.

  • Compass

Stanza seven introduces a new metaphor, the comparison of their love to a compass. The two legs have been joined together permanently and without one, they are both useless. He furthers this example by explain what he means in terms of his wife, how one will not move without the other, showing she is completely faithful and supportive of him.

  • Love:Considering the poem was written for his wife, Ann. The final argument is that real love is powerful, unconquerable. Real love can't be defeated by distance and real love doesn't fall apart at the thought of being apart.
  • Spirituality: In "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," Donne contrasts love that is based on the body, with a spiritual love that is able to transcend the flesh and is based on the soul. Moreover, there is a separation of body, but not in sprit.
  • John Donne has a very sad and distant tone in the beginning of the poem when comparing the death of a body to the separation from lovers.
  • Donne's tone then changes mid-way to something more serious when explaining his profound love.
favorite quotes
Favorite quotes


  • -”Moving of the earth brings harms and fears.”
  • “…dull sublunary lovers’ love”
  • “Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss”

With this quote, Donne is comparing the moving the earth to being as dangerous and falling in love.

Donne is comparing love to the moon, and expressing how all love is physical and should not be detached.

Donne compares the type of lovers whose love does not solely depend on physical aspects. He believes this love is more true.