Historical Context in A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Donne’s poetic shift between death and life is reminiscent of Carpe Diem poetry. Carpe Diem poetry often used the permanence of death to emphasize the importance of embracing the beauty and ephemerality of the moment at hand. Donne embraces this tradition by using death to urge his lover to appreciate the true beauty of their love. In addition, Donne pushes back against traditional Petrarchan sonnets that praise the physical beauty of their lover. The speaker of Donne’s poem forgoes ruminations on physicality to situate his love within the mind and spirit.