“Death, Be Not Proud” Poem by John Donne

“Death, Be Not Proud” was written by John Donne, and it is a sonnet. The poem has the form of a Petrarchan sonnet and was originally named “Holy Sonnet X.” The sonnet is made up of 14 lines. There is one 8-line stanza. This is called the octave. There is also one 6-line stanza. This is sestet. The text has an overriding assonance system, which is ABBA ABBA CDDC EE.

“Migh – ty | and dread- | ful, for | thou art | not so”
“For those | whom thou | thin – k’st | thou dost | o – ver- | throw,

This sonnet is among the most adored poems of English Literature mainly because of its theme. By reading the poem, we are given a message of hope by the poem through his eloquent language. Donne tries to tell us that death should not be proud of itself since man never dies but leaves his earthly body to live eternally in the heavens.

“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

Donne further tells us that even though some people think that death is strong and dominant, it is not so. Sleep can also be stimulated from beginning to end in the form of poppy seeds and by using images, and these are even enhanced than death itself.

“And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke;”

Donne talks about death as if it were a person and, thus, uses personification and metaphors throughout the sonnet. This structure of treatment of comprehensive images is known as a conceit. Firstly, he says that death should not feel proud or mighty,

“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee”

Then he says that death is only a slave to the events that ends our lives, but as our soul enters eternity, death dies, but the soul lives on,

“Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men”
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