The Relic

By John Donne 1572–1631 John Donne
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.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet John Donne 1572–1631

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Religion, Living, Love, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Christianity, Men & Women, Death, Romantic Love

Poetic Terms Imagery, Allusion, Rhymed Stanza, Metaphor, Couplet

 John  Donne

Biography

John Donne's standing as a great English poet, and one of the greatest writers of English prose, is now assured. However, it has been confirmed only in the present century. The history of Donne's reputation is the most remarkable of any major writer in English; no other body of great poetry has fallen so far from favor for so long and been generally condemned as inept and crude. In Donne's own day his poetry was highly prized . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Living, Love, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Christianity, Men & Women, Death, Romantic Love

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Imagery, Allusion, Rhymed Stanza, Metaphor, Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.