A Valediction: Of Weeping Analysis by John Donne | Stanza by Stanza

“A Valediction: Of Weeping” is a lyric/dramatic monologue from “Love Poems” of John Donne, in which the poet, after careful analysis, talks about the love between him and his beloved. As compared to “A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning”, this poem has a different theme though attitude of the poet remains the same in both the poems. The poet is away from his beloved but he misses her too much. In majority of love poems, John Donne addresses to his wife and gives pieces of advice to her. He also supports his advises by strong arguments and far fetched conceits.

John Donne wrote this poem when he was on a journey in the year 1612. He is away from his wife but tells her the importance of true love. He compares small things like tears and faces to globes, seas, and moons. Donne is famous for creating simple but fantastic metaphors. Therefore, this poem is not different from other poems of Donne.

Click to read the actual poem on poetryfoundation instead of analysis of “A Valediction: Of Weeping”.

Stanza-I Analysis of “A Valediction: Of Weeping”:

When someone explains the situation of farewell, tears are necessary. John Donne is in Europe, whereas his wife is in France. He gravely misses his wife and sheds tears for her. Nevertheless, he imagines a situation where his wife is present in front of him. He philosophically talks about tears and their importance in one’s life. He says that tears have no meanings at all until they contain feelings. In general, tears have no importance but the poet’s tears are not useless because they contain an image of his beloved’s face. They are stamped just likes coins are stamped with the image of a king. In this way, the poet compares his tears with the coins of a republic. He says that he will shed tears in presence of his beloved, as they are her creation. However, when the poet shed tears, he actually degrades his beloved.

A deeper analysis of “A Valediction: Of Weeping” forces us to think twice on the arguments of John Donne. He has valued his tears. They are round and are full of feelings. Moreover, they are not useless as they have an image of his beloved. Donne has used a very basic conceit in this poem but the same has much importance as pointed out by Helen Gardner. She while commenting on the poem said:

“the basic conceit is that the tears of each lover bear the image or stamp of the other.”

Helen Gardner

Hence, regression analysis by John Donne predicts the outcome of his relationship with his beloved in the first stanza of “A Valediction: Of Weeping”.  

Stanza-II Analysis:

Another conceit, which Donne has used, is of “globe”. We, in the analysis of the first stanza of “A Valediction: Of Weeping” have understood that tears are useless. In order to clear this uselessness, John Donne has used this specific conceit in the second stanza of the poem. A globe, for instance, is useless until a painter paints it. It is the case with Donne’s tears; they have no value until they comprise the image of his beloved. His tears are the world of both lovers.

Donne may have talked about the unfaithful nature of women but in this poem, his mood is different. He talks just about their loyalty. When a woman loves a man, his life becomes joyful. This joy limits his world and he finds peace only in that world. John Donne is away from his beloved but he knows that her memories are with him; therefore, weeping is not the solution. When tears are shed, peace of mind is destroyed.

Stanza-III analysis of “A Valediction: Of Weeping”:

John Donne has illustrated another incredible example; tides and moon. Moon is a metaphor of his beloved, whereas tides symbolize John Donne. Scientifically, moon attracts tides. Similarly, Donne’s beloved attracts him. It is dependent on the moon whether to create chaos or not. Moon’s attractiveness creates strange kind of gravitational force in tides due to which we observe chaos; this chaos can be harmful for many people.

Exemplification of the poet, in this poem, is very beautiful and reveals his mastery. It also proves that Donne has done an analysis of scientific notations, therefore, he exemplifies them in “A Valediction: Of Weeping”.  In the last stanza, he says, “till thy teares mixt with mine doe overflow this world”. In the same way, in this stanza, he says gravitational attraction of the moon can harm both lover and the beloved. Thus, this stanza is remarkably scientific and proves that Donne’s philosophy is entirely different from other writers of his era.

Critical Analysis of techniques in “A Valediction: Of Weeping”:

Style of the poem is simple. Although John Donne has used far-fetched conceits yet they are self-explanatory. Readers can observe John Donne’s contribution to metaphysical poetry in this poem. The theme of the poem is parting and mood of the poet is loving. He wants the company of his wife. For the time being, she is away from him yet he knows that she is with him as her memories are with the poet. As far as lyrics of the poem are concerned, they are extraordinary but every lyric is colloquial. Donne’s tone is conversational. Readers observe no complexity in the whole poem. In short, after careful analysis, the readers can say that “A Valediction: Of Weeping” is remarkable metaphysical poem of John Donne.