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John Donne Poetry Revision Sheet
Poem: A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
One of the several poems addressed to a woman by her lover about to leave on a
journey which must separate them for a considerable while
He argues that leaving his lover shouldn't be fought with high emotion as…

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Tone ­ secure, soothing, confident

Methods Quote A02
Stanza 1 "As virtuous men pass mildly' Opening analogy of man on deathbed
away" to love poem
A virtuous man will welcome rather
than fear death
Just like Donne wishes the separation
of he and his wife to be untroubled and

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Also suggests their love is self
sufficient and there is no need to
demonstrate it to the rest of the

Stanza 3 "moving of th'earth brings harms Begins to use series of images to
and fears" illustrate nature of their love and why
this temporary parting should be

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Stanza 5 "But..." Shift in argument
"refined" Alchemy imagery extended here by use
of "refined" ­ purified
they are mutually confident that their
love is of the mind and physical
separation won't impair their r'ship
"Care less" (Platonic)
Physical love is not excluded
completely ­ care less rather than…

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excellent, famous e.g. of conceit ­
union of souls compared to compass
Ref to geometrical compass used by
map-makers and explorers to plot
maps and measure distances ­
conceit ­ approp. As D is leaving to go
on voyage
D develops this argument through
"the fixed foot"
series of…

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Stanza 9 D builds imagery of circle from previous
stanza ­ compass draws circle
"obliquely" Indirectly ­ comes from idea that
compasses didn't move directly when
used for measuring distances on maps
­ they moved in a curve
Suggestion of infidelity by use of
"firmness" "just" oblique?
However this is…

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Biographical Context
Poem written for Anne Donne by John in 1611 prior to his departure on a voyage to
Idea of closing stanza of Anne as stabilising anchor on D's "oblique" running
(potential infidelity) concurs with the charge in D following his marriage, from `Jack
Donne' to a faithful,…

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Described as one of the finest love poems in language
Joan Bennett `4 Metaphysical Poets'
"the same flame that lights the intellect warms the heart, mathematics and love
obey one principle: the binding of a circle and the union of lovers are equivalent
symbols of eternity and perfection''
"the verse…




these notes are amazing. do you have any more on metaphysical? 

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