'Relic , The' by John Donne
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When my grave is broke up again
Some second guest to entertain,
(For graves have learn'd that woman head,
To be to more than one a bed)
And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,
Will he not let'us alone,
And think that there a loving couple lies,
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their souls, at the last busy day,
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?
If this fall in a time, or land,
Where mis-devotion doth command,
Then he, that digs us up, will bring
Us to the bishop, and the king,
To make us relics; then
Thou shalt be a Mary Magdalen, and I
A something else thereby;
All women shall adore us, and some men;
And since at such time miracles are sought,
I would have that age by this paper taught
What miracles we harmless lovers wrought.
First, we lov'd well and faithfully,
Yet knew not what we lov'd, nor why;
Difference of sex no more we knew
Than our guardian angels do;
Coming and going, we
Perchance might kiss, but not between those meals;
Our hands ne'er touch'd the seals
Which nature, injur'd by late law, sets free;
These miracles we did, but now alas,
All measure, and all language, I should pass,
Should I tell what a miracle she was.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Relic by John Donne: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Have you ever felt the urge to hold onto a memory or a moment in time? To capture it and keep it with you forever, as a relic of that moment? John Donne's poem, "Relic," explores this very idea, but with a twist. The poem is not about a physical relic, but a relic of love. It is a poignant and powerful exploration of the human heart, and the ways in which we hold onto the memories and emotions of those we have loved.
Before we dive deep into our interpretation of the poem, let's take a look at the text itself. Here is the poem in full:
When my grave is broke up again Some second guest to entertain, (For graves have learned that woman-head To be to more than one a bed) And he that digs it, spies A bracelet of bright hair about the bone, Will he not let'us alone, And think that there a loving couple lies, Who thought that this device might be some way To make their souls at the last busy day Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?
If this fall in a time or land Where mass-devotion doth command, Then he that digs us up will bring Us to the bishop or the king, To make us relics; then Thou shalt be a Mary Magdalen, And I a something else thereby; All women shall adore us, and some men; And since at such time miracles are sought, I would have that age by this paper taught What miracles we harmless lovers wrought.
First, we must note the structure of the poem. It is a single stanza of 15 lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCCDEEDFGFG. This gives the poem a strong and steady rhythm that draws the reader in and keeps them engaged throughout.
Throughout the poem, Donne uses a variety of imagery to convey his central theme. The most striking of these is the image of the "bracelet of bright hair about the bone." This is a powerful and visceral image, a symbol of the love that once existed between the two people buried in the grave. It is an image that sticks with the reader long after they have finished reading the poem.
So, what does it all mean? At its core, "Relic" is a poem about the power of love and memory. Donne is exploring the ways in which we hold onto the people we have loved, even after they are gone. He uses the image of the bracelet of hair to symbolize the physical remains of that love, but also acknowledges that it is not just a physical thing. The love and memories that we hold onto are just as real and powerful as any physical object.
The poem can also be read as a commentary on the nature of death and the afterlife. Donne's speaker imagines that the "bracelet of bright hair" will be seen as a device to bring the couple together in the afterlife. This suggests a belief in a shared afterlife, and a desire to be reunited with loved ones. However, the fact that the speaker imagines this happening "at the last busy day" suggests an awareness that this reunion may not be possible. The poem is a testament to the power of love and the desire for eternal connection, even in the face of death.
Another interesting aspect of the poem is its use of religious imagery. The reference to Mary Magdalene suggests a desire for the couple to be seen as saints or holy figures. The speaker imagines that they will be brought before a bishop or king to be made into relics, objects of worship for the faithful. This is a striking image, and one that raises questions about the nature of love and devotion. Is the love between the couple something to be celebrated and revered, or is it a sin to be repented of? The ambiguity of the poem leaves these questions unanswered, but it is clear that Donne is exploring the intersection of love, religion, and the afterlife.
"Relic" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the nature of love, memory, and the afterlife. Through its use of striking imagery and strong rhythms, it draws the reader in and holds their attention throughout. The poem is a testament to the power of love and the desire for eternal connection, even in the face of death. Donne's exploration of these themes raises important questions about the nature of love, religion, and the afterlife, and leaves the reader with much to ponder. It is a poem that stays with you long after you have finished reading it, a relic of its own.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Poetry Relic, written by John Donne, is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. This poem is a beautiful expression of love and devotion, and it has been studied and analyzed by scholars and poetry enthusiasts for centuries. In this article, we will take a closer look at The Poetry Relic and explore its themes, structure, and meaning.
The Poetry Relic is a sonnet, which means that it is a fourteen-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme. Donne's sonnet follows the traditional rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which means that the first and third lines of each quatrain rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines. The final couplet is a rhyming couplet, which provides a sense of closure to the poem.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing his lover, telling her that he has written a poem for her. He then goes on to describe the poem as a "relic" that will be treasured and revered for generations to come. The use of the word "relic" is significant because it suggests that the poem is something sacred and valuable, like a religious artifact.
The second quatrain of the poem is where the speaker begins to describe the content of the poem. He tells his lover that the poem is not about her physical beauty, but rather about her inner qualities. He describes her as "virtuous" and "fair," suggesting that her beauty comes from her moral character rather than her appearance.
In the third quatrain, the speaker continues to describe the content of the poem. He tells his lover that the poem is not just about her, but also about their love. He describes their love as "pure" and "holy," suggesting that it is a love that transcends physical desire and is rooted in a deep spiritual connection.
The final couplet of the poem provides a sense of closure and reinforces the idea that the poem is a relic that will be treasured for generations to come. The speaker tells his lover that the poem will outlast even the most enduring physical monuments, such as "brass" and "stone." He suggests that the poem will be a testament to their love long after they are gone.
The themes of The Poetry Relic are love, devotion, and the power of poetry. The poem is a beautiful expression of the speaker's love for his lover, and it emphasizes the importance of inner beauty and spiritual connection in a relationship. The poem also highlights the power of poetry to capture and preserve emotions and experiences for future generations.
The structure of the poem is also significant. The use of the sonnet form, with its specific rhyme scheme and structure, gives the poem a sense of order and symmetry. This structure reinforces the idea that the poem is a relic, something that is carefully crafted and preserved for future generations.
The language and imagery used in the poem are also noteworthy. The use of words like "virtuous," "pure," and "holy" suggests a spiritual dimension to the speaker's love for his lover. The use of the word "relic" reinforces the idea that the poem is something sacred and valuable. The imagery of "brass" and "stone" suggests the enduring nature of the poem and its ability to outlast even the most enduring physical monuments.
In conclusion, The Poetry Relic is a beautiful and timeless expression of love and devotion. The poem's use of the sonnet form, specific rhyme scheme, and carefully crafted language and imagery give it a sense of order and symmetry that reinforces the idea that it is a relic, something sacred and valuable that will be treasured for generations to come. The poem's themes of love, devotion, and the power of poetry make it a classic piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.
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