The Relic is a poem written by John Donne, a prominent English poet and cleric in the early 17th century. The poem is a meditation on the theme of death and the ephemerality of life.
In the first stanza, Donne begins by describing a relic, which is a physical object that is believed to have a special spiritual or religious significance. The relic in the poem is a "dead man's skull," and Donne uses it as a metaphor for death and the impermanence of life. He writes that the skull "mocks" the living, reminding them of their own mortality and the fact that they too will one day be reduced to a lifeless object.
The second stanza of the poem focuses on the idea of the self and how it is constantly changing over time. Donne writes that the self is not a fixed entity, but rather a "fugitive," constantly moving and evolving. He compares the self to a "bubble," which is fragile and ephemeral, and he warns that it is "in danger to be burst." This metaphor of the self as a bubble serves to emphasize the fleeting nature of life and the fact that death is always looming.
In the final stanza of the poem, Donne reflects on the idea of eternal life and the possibility of resurrection. He writes that the "immortal part" of a person lives on after death, and that it is this part that will be resurrected on the day of judgment. This final stanza serves to offer hope and consolation to the reader, reminding them that death is not the end and that they will have the opportunity to live on in a spiritual sense.
Overall, The Relic is a thought-provoking and poignant meditation on the theme of death and the fleeting nature of life. Through the use of vivid imagery and metaphor, Donne encourages readers to consider the impermanence of their own selves and to ponder the mysteries of the afterlife.
The Relic: Poem Themes & Motifs
The speaker sets out to explain what their relationship is like on earth, noting that they exchange quick kisses but nothing more. Take our free The Relic quiz below, with 25 multiple choice questions that help you test your knowledge. Take the free quiz now! Jaws 9Eat and are finished and the jawbone comes to the beach: 10This is the sea's achievement; with shells, 11Vertebrae, claws, carapaces, skulls. In the poem, a speaker ruminates on the relationship between him and his beloved by imagining that they become relics for another society in the future. The worship of the poet and his beloved as saints of love after their death is a great tribute to their holy love.
His later work, after he was ordained as Dean of St. Before beginning English studies at Cambridge University having won a scholarship in 1948 , he spent much of his National service time reading and rereading all of Shakespeare. . Determine which chapters, themes and styles you already know and what you need to study for your upcoming essay, midterm, or final exam. The lovers may have exchanged formal courtesies of kissing at the time of meeting or separation, but there was nothing more than that. Born August 17th, 1930 in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, his family moved to Mexborough when he was seven to run a newspaper and tobacco shop.
The sight of a picked-clean fish jawbone on the beach leads the poem's speaker to reflect that it's a fish-eat-fish world out there—and that perhaps the only consolation for nature's brutality is the fact that new life arises from death. Just as the love of guardian angels is not physical but spiritual. This may have a reference to the marriage of his lady-friend to Mr. There is a kind of contradiction as this pure love is dependent on a small bit of hair. The literary duo discuss their writing and their influence on each other. The Relic the derelict shell of an ancient house sits like an abandoned puppy beside a road walls ringing with the laughter of children now echo in the desolation of neglect winds shriek in a ghostly wail through voids of missing windows polished floors shining like money are obscured under dunes of dust red cedar shingles capping the roof and covering the home desert their place as defenders fleeing in the west Texas wind exposing the sagging gray decking littered with gaping orifices gleaming white stucco walls fade into a sordid shade of sepia a perfectly manicured lawn around an elegant home becomes an angry tribe of native grasses pointing their spears toward the sky only the majestic live oak trees guarding a mansion on the hill withstand the vagaries of time as watchmen over a forgotten relic. The unusual comparisons - grave and woman, lovers and guardian angels, the beloved and Mary Magdalen add to the charm of the poem.
The three topics are intimately related to one another. Stanza 3: The poet now narrates the miracles wrought by his love - First, we loved totally and faithfully, without knowing what we admired in one another and why we liked one another. The deeps are cold: 5In that darkness camaraderie does not hold. Magdalen Herbert who was the poet's friend and benefactor. In fact, love becomes as sacred as religion. At Cambridge, he he 'spent most. Donne seems to suggest that the state of nature permitted free physical sex while our human laws have restricted sexual freedom.
Their love was based on a close affinity between the two souls. Then our relics will be regarded as those of Mary Magdalene a repentant prostitute converted by Christ and those of Christ or some saint. All in all, we must admire the originality of the poem and the fancies which are enriched by Donne's sallies against women. Whomever digs up his skeleton will notice that there is a ring of hair around his wrist and assume that this was a means of keeping two lovers together in the afterlife. All measure, and all language, I should pass, Should I tell what a miracle she was. This curved jawbone did not laugh 16But gripped, gripped and is now a cenotaph. I would like to convey through this poem the miracles we innocent lovers performed.
In the lines three and four, he has a fling at the inconstancy of woman because his beloved, like any woman, can have more than one man in her bed. The poem deals with love, death and religion. The laws injuring the otherwise seals of nature set free is also a fanciful figure of speech. And the jaws, Before they are satisfied or their stretched purpose Slacken, go down jaws; go gnawn bare. Note that all parenthetical citations refer to the line number in which the quotation appears. We did not regard sex as the object of our love; our love was pure and ideal like the love between our guardian angels. The following version of this poem was used to create this guide: Donne, John.
It was published in 1633 in a posthumous collection of Donne's poetry. The later lovers will feel that their love will be rewarded with success if they worship the relic. We shall then be worshipped as saints by all women and some men. How it is possible to find 'bright hair' when the grave is full of dust and insects, is not explained by the poet. His love has been restricted by the lady's marriage and as such his love can now only be 'Platonic', such a love cannot be described in words. Bracelet of Hair The bracelet of hair symbolizes earthly love.
None grow rich 15In the sea. The speaker imagines that he will be buried with a strand of his beloved's hair around his wrist as a means of connecting them in the afterlife after having been lovers on earth. It would be difficult to imagine as some people feel that this poem might refer to some other woman whom Donne knew in his youth. And the jaws, 7Before they are satisfied or their stretched purpose 8Slacken, go down jaws; go gnawn bare. I would however cross all the limits of language and all standards, if I were to describe the wonderful beauty of my beloved. 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.