Poetry is the art of emotional expression through the usage of devices like symbolism, figurative language, and metaphors. Poetry is commonly perceived to be mundane and over complex yet its message is universal and simplistic. Poetry is complex. The usage of poetic devices enhances the poet’s deeper meaning. John Donne lets us see the complexity of his love when he writes A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning that relies heavily on metaphors to set the stage of his romantic tale. Donne’s poem allows the reader to think critically about what love should be or at least what it means to him when he writes this; the emotions are evident to those who understand the power behind his words.
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The way John Donne relates his thoughts with his visions of love and relationship to soul, is a technique he uses, especially when tying it in with his pride for drawing compasses. In lines 1-4, we are introduced with Donne’s way of saying that men who are anticipating passing away, understand and accept that they have to separate their body from soul. He opened the poem up with the simile ‘as’ to compare how ‘friends’ accept death forthcoming while others refuse to let go. ‘Whilst some of their sad friends do say…. The breath goes now, and some say, No.’ Continuing on, Donne targets the next four lines of his poem towards his loved one. He uses metaphors such as ‘sign-tempests’ which can refer to a storm of emotions and also ”Twere profanation of our joys’ how he is emotionless, and crying wouldn’t make their physical bond stronger upon leaving.
The metaphor of earthquakes, line 9, (‘Moving of th’ earth’) and the metaphor ‘trepidation of spheres,’ line 11, explains to the reader that the movement of the sun and moon which are so natural and innocent is the magnitude of love Donne has for his wife. The nature ‘Dull sublunary lovers love’, cannot admit’ refers how the separation of the two of them shouldn’t cause and digression between them. He expresses that ‘Absence, because it doth remove…Those things which elemented it’ tells the reader that regardless upon their separation, forever their natural bond for each other will remain the way they left it.
The conclusion portion of Valediction, Donne uses symbolism and metaphors, like I said before, to compare his relationship upon leaving with a compass. No matter how far the compass is stretched apart (‘To move, but doth, if th’ other do’), as the distance between the two is distant, he is forever attached to her just like the top portion of the compass (‘Yet when the other far doth roam, it leans the hearkens after it.’)
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John Donne uses his entire literary work to make the point about how much love he has for his wife. He first refers to men passing away, again leaving their bodies from their souls, and later compares how regardless of separation no one can separate the physical attraction that him and his wife hold. After he refers the legs of the compass as himself and his wife, he thoroughly explains how a compass, as far as it may go will always be conjoined by the tip, making the ‘circle complete’ though the distance may be further than expected. Donne’s overall work with his inspiring poem where tying in symbolism, metaphors, and figurative language to further expresses his true feelings is made into a unique poem that most cannot express.
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