The Relic

Topics: Poetry, Love, Mary Magdalene Pages: 3 (1054 words) Published: February 11, 2013
Donne uses religious theology about judgement day and what happens after death to pen a poem whereby he is presenting an image of him and his lover in their graves. In the poem he describes how items of their body will become relics and they will be deemed holy because of the transcendent elevated nature of their love.

The poem centres on the themes of death / religion / theology / love / life after death / judgement. These themes are prevalent in his other love poems, The Ecstasy (platonic theory of souls) & The Anniversary (life after death.) The poem is comprised of three stanzas of 11 lines each. Each stanza is identical in structure and in form. The poem opens with a macabre, cynical dark tone of hard worldliness and realism. The tone gradually shifts throughout the poem to one where there is positivism, idealism and affirmation of love, thus reflecting the theme. There is the use of the typical metaphysical rhyme and rhythm. Clearly a "song", it possesses the rhythmic ebb and flow of a madrigal, moving lightly between four, three and five-beat lines in a pattern followed faithfully in each stanza.

Typical of Donne to employ shocking imagery in a love poem, he opens the scene with the macabre, dark, sardonic image of a grave being dug up. Immediately addresses the theme of death “when my grave is broke up again / some second guest to entertain”. There is a reference to how, in this era, graves were often dug up and the bones burnt so a second body could be fitted due to a lack of space. Donne establishes the image of corpses as lovers as the gravedigger spies a bracelet made of hair on the skeleton – “A bracelet of bright hair about the bone” this hair represents a woman while the speaker is symbolised by the bone. This conveys the idea of lovers’ unity, even in death. The speaker instructs the grave digger to leave them alone.

There is a reference to judgement day or the apocalypse – “this device might be some way / To make their souls at the last...
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