A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

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Shavaughn Jones A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Context: John Donne’s poetry has often been described as “witty monologues that use numerous conceits, images and paradox’s to make a clever point”. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" shows many features associated with seventeenth-century metaphysical poetry in general, and with Donne's work in particular. Donne's contemporary, the English writer Izaak Walton, tells us the poem dates from 1611, when Donne, about to travel to France and Germany, wrote for his wife this valediction, or farewell speech. Like most poetry of Donne's time, it did not appear in print during the poet's lifetime. The poem was first published in 1633, two years after Donne's death, in a collection of his poems called Songs and Sonnets. Even during his life, however, Donne's poetry became well known because it circulated privately in manuscript and handwritten copies among literate Londoners. All the Metaphysicals wrote in the time period of the scientific revolution. Significance of the Title: Definition: Valediction (from Webster Universal Dictionary) 1. act of saying farewell; bidding goodbye to; a farewell; 2. words of a farewell • Therefore the translation of the title is “during a farewell, mourning is forbidden” • Although the title seems to be about saying farewell to someone who has died, the poem isn't about death; it is about a separation that seems so painful and dangerous it seems to be like death and seems to warrant the same sort of mourning. Major Themes • True love doesn’t need to be physically connected, but rather, the lovers will share a spiritual connection that can never be separated, only expanded. • Absolute perfection of a relationship is only achieved through the physical but more importantly through the spiritual. • Death is the opening scene of the poem, and links are made back to death
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