Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" and Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" are identical and contradictory in many respects. Although "A Valediction" concentrates on the comfort of love on parting and "To His Coy Mistress" contemplates about sexual love and the briefness of life, both exemplify characteristics of metaphysical poetry. Metaphysical poetry is about the profound areas of experience, especially about love, romantic and sensual, and, to a lesser extent, about pleasure, learning, and art.
Metaphysical poems are brief but intense meditations, characterized by a striking use of wit, irony and wordplay. Beneath this somewhat formal structure is the underlying arrangement of the poem's argument. In "To His Coy Mistress" the explicit argument (Marvell's request that the coy lady yield to his passion) is a background for the more serious argument about the need for pleasure and to live life to the fullest before death.
The outward lightness conceals a deep seriousness of intent. This poem finds the pretence of passion used to hang serious reflections on the brevity of happiness, or in other words, the main point of a carpe diem poem. In "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" the argument is not logically persuasive as Marvell's poem proved, but the cleverness and subtlety of Donne's method are diverting in that a lonely woman might be comforted. She cannot change the fact of the lover leaving, but the poem states evidence of the integrity of the love he has professed thus far.
The imagery used by the poets can also be applied as a basis for comparing and contrasting. Donne writes in a wide-ranging and obscure method. He did not write for publication, but showed poems to friends whom he supposed to be well read enough to understand these references. Donne's imagery...