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sabato 12 aprile 2014

Letteratura inglese - John Donne - A Valediction Forbidding Mourning (analysis/analisi)

·         “Valediction” means “to say farewell”[1]. It comes from the Latin word “Vale dicere”
·         “Forbidding” means “proibire”
·         “Mourning” means “pianto, dolore (per una persona cara)”. It comes from to morn[2]
This poem comes from a collection entitled Songs and sonnets, which was published in 1663, after Donne’s death.
Most of the poems in this collection, however, circulated in manuscript during Donne’s life.
The poem was written before Donne’s departure[3] from France in 1611. It begins with an analogy signalled by the word “as” in line 1 and the word “so” in line 5: throw this analogy Donne tells his wife that their parting must not involve a show of extravagant grief, but a silent melting from one another[4].
In the first stanza Donne compares their parting to the death of virtuous men which is so imperceptible that the watchers at the bedside[5] are unable to say when the last breath[6] is taken.
In line 5 he says that there shouldn’t be any show of private feeling at their parting; there should be no tear-floods or sigh-tempests[7]. He thinks that their love is something secret and that it would be profaned if other people were to hear about it.
·         “Moving of th’ earth” stands for “earthquakes”[8]
·         “trepidation of the spheres” refers to “the libration or oscillation of heavenly spheres which communicates[9] itself to all the smaller spheres starting from the ninth (9TH)”. This is a theory which was added to the Ptolemaic system by an Arab astronomer in about 950 A.D. . The system of Ptolemy was a theory stating that the Earth lay at the centre of the Universe with the Sun and all the planets revolving around it. This theory remained undisputed until the Copernican system was published in 1543. The Copernican system stated that the Earth and all the other planets rotated around the Sun. Copernicus was a Polish astronomer who lived between the 15TH and the 16TH century. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer, mathematician and philosopher who lived in the second century A.D. . The theory of the oscillation of the spheres was added to the Ptolemaic system in order to account for[10] certain phenomena especially the precession of the equinoxes, that is the slightly earlier occurrence[11] of the equinoxes, which are the two occasions that day and night are of equal length[12].
In the third stanza Donne states that earthquakes cause terror and perplexity while the much greater movement of the heavenly spheres (= sfere celesti) is regarded as a natural occurrence and doesn’t upset anybody.
Through this scientific parallel[13] Donne suggests that their separation should be as unnoticed as the oscillation of the heavenly spheres. He also indicates that the parting of ordinary lovers is similar to an earthquake.
In the fourth stanza he says that lovers of a dull sublunary kind know nothing beyond physical love and they cannot reconcile themselves to parting because for their bodily separation is absolute[14].
“To reconcile oneself to” means “to resign oneself to”[15].
In the final line of this stanza, “elemented” means “bodily separation removes those elements of which their love is made”.
In the fifth stanza, in using the term “sublunary” when referring to other lovers, Donne suggests that their love is subjected to change and decay and he implies[16] that he and his beloved share this constancy and permanence found above the Moon.
Their love has been so purified to such a degree that they themselves are unable to comprehend it. For them loss of physical contact is much less important.
In the sixth stanza they form a single being[17] sharing a single soul: their unity is not to be broken by their parting. Rather as the gap[18] between their bodies widens[19] as they move away from one another their shared soul extends itself like gold beaten out into gold leaf[20]. In using this image, Donne gives the love he shares with his wife the beauty and value of gold.
In the seventh stanza Donne says that they do not share a single soul, than their individual souls are firmly[21] linked together like the legs/feet of a pair of compasses. Donne tells his wife that her soul, which is like the fixed foot[22] is not impelled to move[23] until he moves/he does so.
In the eight stanza, although the fixed foot seats in the centre when the outer leg draws a circle, it turns about as though watching and straining[24] to keep in contact and it draws itself up straight again when the outer leg completes its circle and returns to the centre. The firmness of the fixed foot[25] represents the constancy and fidelity of Donne’s beloved, which enable him[26] to love her with constancy and make him go back[27] to her every time he has too trouble away from her.



[1] Dire addio
[2] Essere in lutto per …
[3] partenza
[4] la loro separazione non deve comportare uno spettacolo di dolore stravagante, ma una fusione silenziosa tra l’uno e l’altra
[5] persone al capezzale
[6] respiro
[7] Nessuna inondazione di lacrime né tempeste di sospiri
[8] terremoti
[9] che si comunica
[10] al fine di spiegare
[11] Il verificarsi leggermente prima
[12] di ugual durata
[13] confronto
[14] significa tutto
[15] rassegnarsi a/accettare
[16] sottintende
[17] un unico essere
[18] divario
[19] si allarga
[20] come l’oro che viene battuto fino a diventare una lamina sottile
[21] saldamente
[22] piede fisso
[23] non  è spinto a muoversi
[24] e si stesse sforzando
[25] la fermezza del piede fisso
[26] gli consente
[27] farlo tornare

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