Summary of “The Funeral” By John Donne
“The Funeral” penned by John Donne is a poem that, like most of his poems, deals with emotions. It brings before us Donne’s strong belief in the life hereafter. In the poem, we see that he is ready to leave someone who rejects him. He wants to say her good-bye forever and ever. He wants to die at the cost of his beloved’s rejection. We can say that he has written this poem in sheer agony and desperation of being rejected by his beloved.
In the very beginning of the poem, we see Donne praising his beloved and referring to “subtle wreath of hair.” This reference is actually made in the Renaissance context. It was a custom between the lovers that the woman always presented a braid of her hair to the man she loved passionately. Donne wishes that he should be in the grave with her beloved’s “subtle wreath of hair” because he believes that the only owner of his soul is God. However, the soul owner of his body and heart is his beloved. It is the hair that will cause the meeting between them in the grave before the Day of Judgment. So, he advises that the bracelet of her hair should not be separated from him after his death.
Further, he shows hatred for his beloved. He says that his lover was unfaithful to her. She gave her hair to pretend that she was in love with him. He condemns her for this. But suddenly, he says that he is to punish his beloved and the punishment suggested for his beloved is the burial of her hair and the suicide he will commit. He thinks that his suicide is the only way to punish his beloved. Though she cannot save him from committing suicide, she can also not help avoiding him from burying her part of body with her lover. In this way, he will be a love’s martyr.
To sum up, the poet has skillfully used the conceit and images to express his love as well as his anguish for his beloved. The conceit of hair is a source of satisfaction as well as fury. Similarly, the images of soul as well as brain have also been used by the poet in a graceful manner. In short, the poem is master-piece by John Donne for its variety of moods and the uses of different images and conceits. (Words: 402)