Themes in The Exequy

Final separation

The main theme is clearly of Separation, and here, separation by death, the most final sort there is. The poem is a meditation of how the physical separation can be overcome. One method we often use is through memory. Interestingly, the poet never mentions this. He doesn't want to look back into the past. He is looking forward the whole time, even when time seems to be almost standing still.

Death is not the end

There is also the theme of Death as friend or foe. It is only when King's thoughts turn to the Christian belief that death is not the end but that there will be resurrection, that he can then mentally commit her to the grave and accept the finality of her earthly existence. He is willing to let his own appointed death come when it will. Ironically, we know it did not in fact come for many years. He was 77 when he died; by then his wife had been dead for over fifty years.

Investigating The Exequy
  • Why are love and separation so linked together in so many poems?
  • What other Christian attributes do you think The Exequy has?
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