The word Love may mean many things to different people. For some it can be dangerous and complex, whereas for others it can be simple, yet fulfilling. Many have also attempted to prove the meaning of love, some successful, others not. In the poems A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne and Sonnet 147 by William Shakespeare, both authors view love from opposite spectrums. They both attempt to argue what the meaning of love really is. They do this, by using imagery and symbols, and by writing in extended metaphors.
In both A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning and Sonnet 147, Donne and Shakespeare’s use of imagery and symbolism are well used to describe the meaning of love according to them. Death is a recurrent image in both
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In A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, Donne also uses imagery associated with death. Although this is a poem used to express and demonstrate Donne’s love for his wife, the opening of this poem, is a death scene. “As virtuous men pass mildly away, and whisper to their souls to go” (1-2) this death imagery sets the tone for the remainder of the poem. In the poem, Donne proves that a long distance relationship, may not necessarily weaken the love, but instead strengthen it. Using the death scene to open the poem foreshadows its theme. But using death doesn’t necessarily symbolize fear, as the virtue in the lives of these “virtuous men” (1) has assured them reward in the afterlife, therefore they fearlessly die in peace, which is how a long distance love should be thought of. Being a metaphysical poet, Donne also uses scientific and mathematic imagery when it comes to this poem. He makes reference to earthquakes, “Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears” (10-11) He uses this to refer to the tumultuous moments a relationship may go through. He then proceeds to make references to astronomy, by ‘planetary trepidation’, or in his words “trepidation of the spheres” (13), which “though greater far, is innocent” (14), as the movement of the planets is peaceful and doesn’t disturb the natural world. Both his references to earthquakes and astronomy refer back to the love he and his wife have. Even though his departure is a rough time