“A valediction forbidding mourning” by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Truly metaphysical is this poem of Donne where he proposes complete abolition of the physical. So let us melt and make no noise.,he says, The melting goes on in the subsequent stanza where their souls expand together like gold “to airy thinness beat” .When virtuous souls pass mildly away ,they merely whisper to their souls to go away.No noise please. No tear-floods nor sigh-tempests.Remember the metaphysical souls are not leaving the bodies for good. Nobody is dying. It is just a separation of their bodies by physical distance.

Metaphysical poems have their images drawn from sciences. An earthquake is fearsome but the parting of their selves is like the music of the spheres which is ever so gentle and makes absolutely no noise..But hold.We are not going to tell you the laity of our love. Suffice it to say that our souls are one.But if they are two they are like the feet of a compass.She is the fixed foot who remains at the center but leans towards which ever point he the second foot traces on the circle..Another scientific image.

Doesn’t it strike one that the old man Donne is actually pulling our legs? A quiet debunking of the love poetry genre of the day seems to be going on all the time.When he uses hyperbole, I see a glint in his eyes as he adjusts his eye-glasses and pulls the folds of his heavy clerical cloak ! We are the laity and who are we to share his confidences about his love life?

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