John Donne – A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning (Practice Questions)

Questions 1 through 10 refer to the following poem. Read the poem carefully and then choose the answers to the questions.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Line 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 so say, No;

So let us melt, and make no noise, (5)
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move,
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity of love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant; (10)
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 (15)
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. (20)

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 (25)
As stiff twin compasses are two; 
Thy soul, the fixt foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam, (30)
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, (35)
And makes me end where I begun.

—John Donne (1572–1631)

Practice Questions on A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne

1. The speaker in this poem is a
(A) man who wants to get away from his lover
(B) friend of a dying man
(C) churchman
(D) man who wants to travel
(E) lover who must leave on a journey

2. Which of the following best describes the speaker’s point of view in stanzas 3, 4, and 5?
(A) True lovers can separate without causing major disturbances.
(B) Earthquakes cause more problems than the movement of heavenly bodies.
(C) People who depend on physical love are similar to the stars and planets.
(D) A person should not miss his lover’s lips and eyes.
(E) Lovers have better minds and senses than other people.

3. All of the following are figurative images in the poem EXCEPT
(A) virtuous men
(B) trepidation of the spheres
(C) eyes, lips, and hands
(D) gold to airy thinness beat
(E) the fixt foot (of a compass)

4. The subject of the poem is
(A) death
(B) true lovers parting
(C) a compass
(D) the nature of the earth
(E) a journey

5. The tone of the poem is
(A) sanguine
(B) paradoxical
(C) humorous
(D) melancholy
(E) sardonic

6. The poem’s major conceit is
(A) lovers as a compass
(B) earthquakes and celestial movement
(C) virtuous men and death
(D) love as thin gold
(E) virtuous men and love

7. The phrase “laity of love” in line 8 refers to
(A) clergymen in love
(B) lovers who need physical sensation for their love
(C) lovers who can abide absences
(D) love remaining after death
(E) nonreligious people who worship love

8. According to Donne, true love
(A) can tolerate separation
(B) belongs to the “laity of love”
(C) dies like virtuous men
(D) is the “trepidation of the spheres”
(E) is “sublunary lovers’ love”

9.“A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” is what kind of a poem?
(A) Ode
(B) Sonnet
(C) Narrative
(D) Elegy
(E) Lyric

10. In the last stanza, the speaker talks of
(A) dying
(B) leaving his lover
(C) returning to his lover
(D) making a trip similar in route to a circle
(E) missing his lover

Short Biography of John Donne | Summary and MCQs on A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

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