John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

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A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning


As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
'The breath goes now,' 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
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refin'd,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured 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 airy 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 the' 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.

Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001

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Comments about this poem (A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne )

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  • Dr Aslam (2/19/2014 5:27:00 AM)

    love is immortal.... ah john donne....grt poet of the world... king of metaphysical poems..... (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/5/2012 11:59:00 AM)

    What Donne elevates in this poem is the marriage of true minds. A relationship based on sensual attraction is vulnerable to absence, but a relationship based on a love which is not dependent on the senses is stronger. What a pity that those who give such a poem low marks cannot be asked to justify themselves. (Report) Reply

  • E Backus (6/4/2012 3:50:00 AM)

    Though the distance away from one another seems surmountable and the speaker - due to the gravity of the beloved - ends where I begun, isn't it sad that carrying out the full conceit means the two lovers will never meet? The speaker relies on the beloved for a reference point, but as a compass, they will act like repelling magnets, influencing each other's movements but never touching.: ( (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/5/2011 4:37:00 PM)

    Metaphysical poems of John Donne are well known in literary circle. The imagery of compass expressing the idea of two lovers in union is wonderful indeed! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/5/2009 4:49:00 AM)

    I remember first reading JD and, without understanding fully what I was reading, becoming transfixed by the poetry. My first league poets are Shakespeare, Donne and Blake. (Report) Reply

  • Dorothy Healy (9/5/2007 1:07:00 PM)

    I think this beautiful poem is very sad.
    When the spiritual and the physical join,
    that is sustenance, the perfect golden circle. (Report) Reply

  • Marina R (1/19/2007 10:17:00 PM)

    This poem is beautifuly written. Donnes idea of love on a spiritual level rather than on a physical one is an idea that I feel should be shared with the world. (Report) Reply

Read all 12 comments »

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