A Valediction

A New Critical reading of A Valediction: Forbidden mourning would consider the calm, subdued mood to elevate the tone of the poem, expressing the deep mutual love between the persona and his lover. The persona convinces the women that their parting should not cause sadness, presenting a series of arguments assuring her that their love is beyond the need for physical closeness. Davies interprets this poem as exposing the “disturbing truth” of the male’s “swashbuckling phallicism”. Donne needs to allay his fears of parting, as he is dependent on the woman, the poem based on misogyny, founded on “fear, anger and insecurity as well as desire for approbation in a patriarchal world.” Brett comments on the issue that, “That much of Donne’s religious poetry displays an intense verbal power struggle… uncontroversial. But to leap from these points directly to the reduction that Donne is therefore a misogynist and a “sick” poet is possible only if we consciously and deliberately ignore other important aspects of his poetry.”

The poem opens with an analogy, comparing the ways the lovers should part with the death of a virtuous man. Donne employs sibilance in the opening quatrain to convey the soft mood of the poem. The persona presents a series of arguments assuring his lover that their love is beyond the need for physical closeness. In assuring his lover, he asks for “no teare floods, nor sigh-tempests move”, a hyperbole used to mock the petrarchan devices, showing his disdain of an emotional parting. Davies would argue that this was an image of security that he tries to project for himself to assure himself of the terror of separation, aloowing him a sense of possession while he suffers from his dependece on the woman.

Throughout the poem, Donne employs a series of images of unity. Describing the love between him and his lover as “trepidation of spheres” rather than the openly destructive earthquake-like physical love of other “sublunary lovers.” He provides the...