The Poetry of John Donne: A Study in Explication

By Doniphan Louthan | Go to book overview
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2
Patterns of Parting

THIS CHAPTER WILL supply, as no other chapter in the essay will, full-length analyses of poems--the type of analyses presupposed by the shorter exegeses elsewhere in the essay. Each atom must be audited, but the full account of the process is reserved for this chapter only.

One may without great violence group Donne's valediction poems together for consideration. Apart from the obvious four (Window, Book, Weeping, Mourning), there are a number of poems which might be classed as valedictions. I have here chosen the Weeping and the Mourning valedictions, plus "Elegie XVI." In each of these three poems the speaker is bidding his beloved farewell, prior to an extended absence. The attitude towards the beloved in these poems, is Petrarchan, rather than cynical. Indeed, their tone is so lovingly tender that these poems have become specifically identified, on the basis of the sinceritas heresy plus somewhat scanty external evidence, with Donne's own biography: he as the model husband must have been addressing his devoted wife.

My choice of these genre poems for this location was not altogether arbitrary (they virtually enjoy genre status). One item of proof is the fact that this group--and the first poem in

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