A Valediction: forbidding Mourning
"A Valediction: forbidding Mourning" is recognised as one of Donne's most famous yet simplest poems. It is his most direct statement of his ideal of spiritual love. Unlike, "The Flea," in "A Valediction: forbidding Mourning" Donne professes a devotion to spiritual love that transcends merely the physical. In this poem, the persona anticipates a physical separation from his beloved; he invokes the nature of that spiritual love to ward off the "tear-floods" and "sigh-tempests" that might otherwise attend on their farewell. The poem is quintessentially a sequence of metaphors and comparisons, each describing ways of looking at their separation which will help them avoid the mourning forbidden by the poem's title.
Firstly, the persona explains that their farewell should be as mild as the uncomplaining deaths of virtuous men, for to weep would be "profanation of our joys." Next, the persona compares harmful "Moving of th' earth" to innocent "trepidation of the spheres," equating the first with "dull sublunary lovers' love" and the second with their love, "Inter-assured of the mind."
Like the rumbling earth, the dull sublunary lovers are all physical, unable to experience separation without losing the sensation that comprises and sustains their love. But the spiritual lovers "Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss," because, like the trepidation (vibration) of the spheres (the globes that surrounded the earth in ancient astronomy), their love is not wholly physical. Also, like the trepidation of the spheres, their separation will not have the harmful consequences of an earthquake.
Though he must go, their souls are still one, and, therefore, they are not enduring a breach, If their souls are separate, he says, they are like the feet of a compass: His lover's soul is the fixed foot in the center,