A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Original Text: 
John Donne, Poems, by J. D. With elegies on the authors death (M. F. for J. Marriot, 1633). MICF no. 556 ROBA. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2245 A2 1633A. STC 7045.
2      And whisper to their souls, to go,
3Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
4      "The breath goes now," and some say, "No:"
5So let us melt, and make no noise,
6      No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
7'Twere profanation of our joys
8      To tell the laity our love.
10      Men reckon what it did, and meant;
15Absence, because it doth remove
17But we by a love so much refin'd,
18      That ourselves know not what it is,
20      Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
21Our two souls therefore, which are one,
22      Though I must go, endure not yet
23A breach, but an expansion,
24      Like gold to airy thinness beat.
25If they be two, they are two so
26      As stiff twin compasses are two;
27Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
28      To move, but doth, if the' other do.
29And though it in the centre sit,
30      Yet when the other far doth roam,
31It leans, and hearkens after it,
32      And grows erect, as that comes home.
33Such wilt thou be to me, who must
34      Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
35Thy firmness makes my circle just,
36      And makes me end, where I begun.


1] According to Izaak Walton, addressed by Donne to his wife when he was about to set out for France in 1612. Back to Line
9] Moving of th' earth: earthquake. Back to Line
11] trepidation of the spheres. The precession of the equinoxes under the Ptolemaic system was explained as caused by the shaking or trepidation of the outermost, crystalline sphere of the universe. Back to Line
12] innocent: harmless. Back to Line
13] sublunary: earthly; everything below the moon was thought subject to change; above it was "unchangeable firmament," as Donne says in "The Fever," playing with the same metaphor. Back to Line
14] Whose soul is sense: see note on "The Ecstasy," lines 53-56. Back to Line
16] elemented: were the elements of, composed. Back to Line
19] Inter-assured of the mind. "For we consist of three parts, a Soul and Body, and Minde: which [mind] I call those affections and thoughts and passions which neither soul nor body hath alone but have been begotten by their communication, as Musique results out of our breath and a cornet" (Donne). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.176.