ot;feel an incongruity". Here, the poet must then proceed to persuade the reader that these things are alike in spite of their apparent differences. The speaker proves the point by drawing the circle with the compass. The lover who stays behind is the fixed point, and the speaker is the other leg of the instrument. Without the "firmness" of the fixed point, he would be unable to complete the journey and make the circle just (precise). The adverb "obliquely" (l. 34) may have several different meanings. John Freccero supports the interpretation that obliquely means a spiral motion, referred to by the Neoplatonic tradition as a movement of the soul. Obliquely may also indicate a slant. Either the drawing instrument can be interpreted to move in a spiral, or the motion may refer to the second foot's tilted position in relation to the fixed one in the center. Such a position would be required during the drawing of a circle. According to Freccero, "No matter how far Donne roams his thoughts will revolve around his love.... At the end of the circle, body and soul are one". In Donne's "Valediction," the human souls are described in the context of a joint soul that is stretched by the separation, or two souls joined within a circle of spiritual strength. Donne once stated in an elegy, "...perfect motions are all circular."5 The circle in the "Valediction" represents the journey during which two lovers endure the trial of separation, as they support each other spiritually, and eventually merge in a physically and spiritually perfect union.
"Circle." Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art. 1979 ed.
Donne, John. "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." John Donne. Frank Kermode, Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Freccero, John. "Donne's "Valediction Forbidding Mourning." Essential Articles: John Donne's Poetry. Roberts, John, Ed. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon, 1975. 279-304.
Gardner, Helen. "Introduction." The Metaphysical Poets. Helen Gardner, Ed. London: Penguin Group, 1985.
Pinka, Patricia. This Dialogue of One: The Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1982.
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