“A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” is a well-known poem written by John Donne. It was published in 1633 after the poet had died. This beautiful love poem is written in iambic pentameter. The title reflects the main theme of the poem – the farewell. The poet starts off by comparing the feelings towards his beloved one with the death of the virtuous men. Such odd metaphor is used because they pass away very peacefully, and even the closest friends can never be sure if they are truly dead. Likewise, he convinces his wife to depart in peace and silence before too many find out about their feelings. This is why mourning should be avoided. Furthermore, comparing their departure to the death, he stresses out its insignificance. It is not a real departure, like the separation of body and soul.
The love between the two is sacred and cannot be understood by those, who do not love so desperately. Donne asks his wife not to show a sign of tears because her tears are too precious and will not be appreciated by those who do not understand the depth of their love. So, when the poet departs, the readers see no sign of the departure on his wife’s face, and she just returns to her business. However, we can imagine that her faith and love is strong and she holds on to her feelings as much as she can.
The nature of their love is mere physical; it cannot be destroyed by time or distance. Most of the lovers fear the distance because they perceive love through physical presence and attractiveness. They concentrate on lips, hands and other parts of the body, whereas the poet and his wife concentrate on their spiritual unity. Unlike the majority, the protagonist is sure of innocence and strength of their love.
John Donne finishes his poem by comparing his wife and himself to the legs of the compass. Although, they have different purposes, the two are joined at the top but are apart at the ends. One leg always stays firm, just like Donne’s wife, who stays at home and patiently waits for her husband. While first leg stays firm in the center, the other one travels in a perfect circle until it reaches the point where it started its journey. Donne’s wife is his compass, his constant support, and until her love and commitment is steady, he will always be able to return from his continuous travels home, to the same point where they left off before departure.