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A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning was written by John Donne around 1612. He wrote this love poem to his wife in England before his voyage to Europe. The poem assures us that two people who are physically separated will remain spiritually connected. The central simile of the piece is in the sixth stanza.

According to Donne, though the lovers are separated, their souls will expand like fine gold to maintain their connection across oceans.

Donne's poem also suggests several astronomical references – notably the imagery of one point of a compass remaining static while the other point completes a circle around it. Similarly, this piece and the space station that will host it will be tethered to Earth by gravity while endlessly orbiting.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

by John Donne


As virtuous men pass mildly away,

   And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say

   The breath goes now, and some say, No:


So let us melt, and make no noise,

   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;

'Twere profanation of our joys

   To tell the laity our love.


Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,

   Men reckon what it did, and meant;

But trepidation of the spheres,

   Though greater far, is innocent.


Dull sublunary lovers' love

   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence, because it doth remove

   Those things which elemented it.


But we by a love so much refined,

   That our selves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind,

   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.


Our two souls therefore, which are one,

   Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

   Like gold to airy thinness beat.


If they be two, they are two so

   As stiff twin compasses are two;

Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show

   To move, but doth, if the other do.


And though it in the center sit,

   Yet when the other far doth roam,

It leans and hearkens after it,

   And grows erect, as that comes home.


Such wilt thou be to me, who must,

   Like th' other foot, obliquely run;

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

   And makes me end where I begun.

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