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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Saturday Rave: The Relic by John Donne.

Hertford College (which is, confusingly, part of the University of Oxford) has taken down the portraits of the dead white men in its hall and replaced them with portraits of...

...but it doesn't matter who has replaced them. John Donne - John Donne! - has gone.

"Taking down all the portraits was helped by the fact that nobody felt the slightest affection for any of them, with the exception of John Donne," said Emma Smith, an English lecturer and curator of the photographs that have replaced the potraits.*

At least Donne, who loved so very greatly, is not entirely despised; but I do wish that he were still here. He would have written such a glorious poem on the occasion.

Luckily, as it happens, he almost foresaw it, and so he already has.

When my grave is broken 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?

John Donne is gone. He has been put away out of sight (and therefore out of mind) with no concern for any gleam of gold he might shed into the minds and hearts of the people of Hertford College.

His college will be lonelier without him.

Word To Use Today: relic. This word comes from the Latin relictus, left behind, from relinquere, to relinquish.

*Poor William Tyndale, who has gone, too.

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