John Donne's "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" is a poem from one lover to another upon their parting. The speaker is lover who must leave, while the other lover remains at home. The poem is written to comfort the lover remaining at home. The speaker uses three comparisons and two metaphors to convince the lover remaining at home that the parting will not affect their love, because their love does not depend upon physical presence. .
The parting of two lovers in this poem is compared to three things, the first being a death. The comparison of the parting to death points out how the parting is temporary, while death is permanent. The parted lovers will soon be reunited, and this makes the problem of their parting seem less tragic. Although death is mentioned in the opening line, setting the tone of death and mourning, it is not a violent portrayal of death. Instead it describes the mild passing of a virtuous man. This portrayal of death introduces the quiet virtuous nature of the love in the poem. .
The portrayal of this love as private and good is emphasized in the next stanza. The speaker tells his love not to overreact to his leaving. He tells her not to make "tear-floods, nor sigh tempests move"(L. 6) because this would make their sorrow public. He says it would belittle their happiness to tell the masses of their love. In addition, the image of tears, sighs and noise are associated with the public mourning of a death. The use of the word laity in line 8 is especially important because it refers to both the church and to the court for which this poem was written. In a poem that has little to do with God, the use of laity fulfils the necessary loyalty to the church. .
The second of the three comparisons is a comparison to the movements of the heavens and earth. The speaker points out with this analogy that it is not necessary for her to analyze this parting or trouble herself about it, for even the movement of the stars in the heavens is innocent.