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A Comparison Of Donne's 'the Anniversary' And 'a Valediction: Forbidding Mourning'

1354 words - 6 pages

Both ‘A Valediction’ and ‘The Anniversary’ as two poems written by John Donne possess certain similarities, largely through Donne’s use of extended metaphor in both to portray his feelings of love. However, elements of these poems can also be seen as to greatly juxtapose with ‘A Valediction’ focussing on the concept of ‘greater love’ enduring distance whilst ‘The Anniversary’ seems to portray the same love, though enduring time.
Both poems convey a sense of ‘higher love’ - a highly spiritual experience. In ‘A Valediction’ Donne writes of ‘Dull, sublunary lovers’ in comparison to himself and his wife, using assonance to amplify the portrayal of these lovers as heavy-sounding and truly ...view middle of the document...

The material focus in both of these poems is contrasting to other metaphysical poems such as ‘To His Coy Mistress’ written by Andrew Marvell which is much more greatly concerned with natural imagery to portray his love. Marvell’s ‘vegetable love’ metaphor connotes a love that is precious – like Donne’s – but more natural in its reference to pastoral life rather than riches. Rather than choosing an image of wealth as Donne does, Marvell portrays love through an image of need and nature, creating not only a warmer, more greatly personal image, but also an image of love being required like food rather than love as a frivolity. However, much like ‘The Anniversary’, ‘To his Coy Mistress’ has its structure laid in couplets, to create a sense of cohesion surrounding his ideas – a typical method of the metaphysical poets to express their complex and often scientific extended metaphors with the contrast and aid of a tight structure. Whilst the structure of ‘A Valediction’ differs from couplets with its use of ABAB quatrains, this structure is still used to the same end – to supply an organised vehicle for philosophical meditations on love. However, it can also be interpreted that the longer length of the couplet stanzas in ‘The Anniversary’ in comparison to the shorter quatrains of ‘A Valediction’ is to portray the long length of John Donne’s love expressed in the poem as eternal when compared with the long-distance love of ‘A Valediction’.
Though similarities can be drawn through language and structure choice, the two poems become more greatly juxtaposed when taking into consideration the subject matter; Although both portray enduring love, ‘A Valediction’ is love enduring distance, whilst ‘The Anniversary’ is love enduring time. Donne exclaims that ‘death were no divorce’ using the alliterative heavy ‘d’ sound to create an air of absolute certainty in the statement; a reader believes instantly. The reference to divorce conveys Donne’s subject matter of death not ending love like divorce does, but also implies the spiritual actuality of the 17th century, a society in which divorce was frowned upon, and also a society that believed in afterlife – thus giving opportunity to Donne’s thesis. Donne describes the love growing through ‘Years and years unto years’, syntactically placed at the beginning of the line to strike the reader so that the words carry more truth. The repetition of ‘years’ implies the long period of time that the love will last, whilst ‘unto’ conveys gentle movement, portraying how this endurance is not hard, but comes naturally to the couple. This reference to a long distance of time in love is also found in Marvel’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’, with Marvell professing that he would love ‘An age at least to every part’, with the time reference of an ‘age’ not only implying a phenomenally long distance as Donne does, but more greatly a feeling of history and heroism in his love, with an ‘age’ providing a romantic image, almost connoting a...

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