Imagery and symbolism in Valediction: of Weeping

Arguing by analogy

The poem is led by the conceits which is typical of Donne's dialectic or method of argument. This type of argument is known as arguing by analogy – an analogy being a likeness, usually an image, which is developed to carry the main argument through a series of parallels. However, in logic, the rule is that every analogy has its limits, and you need to stop before you hit the limits. We could say, sometimes, that Donne refuses to notice the limits and the force of the poem stems from him driving well beyond them.

The use of imagery in the poem is a dazzling display of verbal wit and dexterity: from minting coins, to pregnancy, to map-making, to floods, to tides and storms. Yet there is a unity of emotion behind it all.

Investigating Valediction: of Weeping
  • Analyse the expression ‘my heaven dissolved' (l.18)
    • Does ‘heaven' here just mean ‘sky', for example?
    • What else is implied in the term, and in the idea of dissolution?
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