The Relique is a typical metaphysical poem written by the master of the school John Donne himself. It has sharp wit, irony, short pithy statements in a style full of allusions, conceit and epigram.
It is a characteristically metaphysical love poem combining levity and seriousness to the core. It is a hypothetical situation, where the spectral voice of the lover assumes that his and his beloved's graves are broken open and their skeletons are displayed and projected as the ultimate romantic icon. The persona, however, subtly undercuts this canonization by referring to their rather inhibited relation abiding all the social customs of the big brothers and doing everything as par calculations and never doing anything from the bottom of the heart. The canonization is thus struck by a kind of grotesque note in the poem.