Language and tone in Valediction: of Weeping


Typically, Donne begins dramatically: ‘Let me powre forth', and he does!

  • We may wonder whether ‘powre' means ‘power' or ‘pour' in modern spelling. Modern editions may regularise the spelling, in which case the ambiguity is lost.
  • The same might be said for the play on ‘falls ... falst' (l.8). In the talk of minting money, ‘false' currency sounds a lot like ‘falst', (‘makes false' as well as ‘falls').


The real force of language is derived from the microcosmic imagery: the little worlds of the lovers and their tears. So there are dramatic phrases such as ‘overflow this world', ‘draw not up seas', ‘weepe me not dead', ‘hasts the others death'. After the emotionally quieter middle section, the language piles up into the ‘Weepe me not dead', before subsiding a little to the end.

Investigating Valediction: of Weeping
  • Consider how best to read the poem out loud
    • How would you deal with the shorter lines, for example?
    • How would you vary the tone for each stanza?
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