Alexis Stanley
Poetry analysis
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Rare? that is the word that comes to mind when the words ?true, eternal love? meet the ear. It is rare to find two people who are so in love that even they know not what it is, but the spirit and essence of such a pure feeling envelopes their souls into one. The metaphysical poem ?A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning? by John Donne cracks open the door into comprehending the ambiguous, complex meaning of true love by using imagery, ambiguities, and complexities to create the idea of hope in eternal love.
When imagery is used in this poem, it does a lot more than just give you an idea about eternal love, it creates the feeling inside of you as if you have felt it before, John Donne?s use of imagery overpowers your senses and shows you how it feels to truly, wholeheartedly, love someone unconditionally no matter what the circumstances. In this poem the narrator must leave his upset wife to embark on a journey, he calms her down by explaining to her that their love is deeper than others can understand, it is spiritual, ?so let us melt, and make no noise.? (line 5) because for her to be upset about a physical separation is only discounting the deepness of their love ??Twere profanation of our joys, to tell the laity our love.? (lines 7-8). The way that the narrator takes the idea of love to a whole new level, a level beyond physical, creates hope for those who have no choice but to be separated. For example; deployment to serve in the military, yes they will be separated physically, but if their relationship is strong and meaningful, then their love is powerful enough to sustain a separation, and in Donne?s eyes, may even make their commitment stronger ?Though I must go, endure not yet a breach, but an expansion, like gold to airy thinness beat? (lines 21-24). His use of imagery helps the readers to somewhat understand the impossible, he shows people that true love goes deeper than the skin.
The ambiguities within this poem can lead to many interpretations about the poems meaning. To some the narrator is trying to con his significant other into obediently awaiting his return, by using excuses to keep her loyal. While to others this poem is one of the greatest poems of mutual love. An example of an ambiguity in this poem can be found in stanza 8; ?And though it in the center sit, yet when the other far doth roam, it leans, and hearkens after it, and grows erect, as that comes home.? Although I interpreted this stanza to mean that even though they are separated they lean towards one another and upon their reunion become elated, others may view it as one person loyally awaiting the others arrival while they roam and then once the roamer returns, the one attentively awaiting his arrival is ecstatic. Another ambiguity is exemplified in the first stanza when the narrator states, ?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.? I understood this stanza to mean that when someone honorable dies and ?whispers their souls to go?, the people close to them don?t want to accept that they are gone, so in a way the narrator is comparing his departure to death, however, he goes on to explain that nothing can separate their love, not even death. The ambiguity behind this stanza may lead some to assume that he is telling his wife to accept their inevitable separation like people who deal with death? when you look at it this way it is questionable as to if he plans on staying with this woman or if, like death, she must accept their inevitable separation from each other. The reason that ambiguities exist within poems are to make the poem adaptable to its reader?s personal situation and therefore making the poem omniscient.
?If they be two, they are two so as stiff twin compasses are two, thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show to move, but doth, if the other do? (stanza 7). This complexity is puzzling; however, it means that their love is like a compass: the ?axis? holding them