Seventeen Century Poetry

Poster¡G Sarita Chuang at 10:43:32 3/23/98 from
" Valediction" 
In John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," the speaker used a lot of comparisons to describe the love of him and his lover. In the first stanza, the speaker compared his going-away to the death of "virtuous men," and people around the virtuous men couldn't decide if they were really dead. In the second stanza, the speaker showed his hope to see no tears or sighs (such sad expression) during parting; he even compared tears to floods, and sighs to tempests. Besides, we know the love of Donne and his lover is not like that of "laity," for he thought it's "profanation" to tell the laity their love. Their love is greater, and we'll see more proof in the fourth stanza. In the third and fourth stanzas, the speaker compared him and his lover to spheres. Although they would be far away from each other, because of their love, no harm would be done, just as trepidation of spheres is "innocent" (which means harmless in this poem). Furthermore, the speaker distinguished his love from "sublunary lover's love;" because earthly lovers' love relies too much on physical or sensual attraction, they couldn't stand physical separation. However, the love of the speaker and his lover is different because they care less about sensual enjoyment (Stanza 5). Then, the speaker declared the unity of his soul and his lover's, and he compared such unity to gold, which wouldn't show "breach." Instead, the parting will create the expansion of soul and give new horizon to the speaker and his lover. 
From line 25 till the end of the poem, the speaker compared him and his lover to a compass, which is quite an unusual comparison of lovers, yet what else could have created such a shock effect, and left a vivid impression on the reader's mind? The two feet of a compass are fixed in the center, just like two sols are actually one (line 21). If one of the feet moves, the other moves, too; such relationship is analogous between the two lovers. Their love wouldn't cease or grow less because of this parting; both of them would grow spiritually, and eventually the speaker would come back to where he left, his lover, that is. (Line 33-36) 
"To His Coy Mistress" 
"To His Coy Mistress" is a dramatic monologue, in which we see both argument and counter-argument, as well as a conclusion. In the first stanza, the speaker used exaggerated images to support his argument. First of all, he hypothesized that if he had enough time and speed, how much he would praise and court his lover. From line 5-10, he used the distance between the Indian Granges and Humber to represent the vast space, and the length of time is suggested by "ten years before the flood¡K till the conversion of the Jews." From line 13 to 15, the speaker said he would use hundreds of years to praise his lover's different body parts. Yet, the space, time, and courtship are all exaggerated. 
The second stanza is where we see the counter-argument, and change in the speaker's tone. The speaker makes it clear that they actually don't have that much, or enough, time. Besides, he created a terrifying image (line 28-32) about the result of his lover's not accepting his courtship. It seems that the speaker means if they don't enjoy themselves to the fullest at this very moment, they might not have another chance. On the other hand, I feel the speaker is trying to persuade his lover to accept his courtship and to make love with him by telling her the horrifying image with sexual connotation. 
However, in the last stanza, the meaning of this poem is elevated, because the last stanza talks about "life," not just courtship. The speaker reveals human beings' common desire to surpass time, instead of being devoured by time. Moreover, as line 43 and 44 suggest, we should gather our strength to bravely experience and try to overcome tortures and difficulties ("the iron gates") in life.