Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.
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,
'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.
I studied this poem in my Senior AP English class, and at first read through, you get the gist - two lovers who must part for a time, and the man wants their parting to be quiet and intimate and only for themselves to know. But then you really read all the imagery and metaphor in this poem - all the ways John Donne compares their love and/or quiet parting to: the death of an old man/earthquakes/molding gold/ and (my favorite) a math compass, and wow, this poem is so rich and detailed and perfection!
Love described by a math compass - so unexpected, but it works so well!