John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

Death Be Not Proud - Poem by John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Form: Sonnet


Comments about Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

  • Melissa Patty Melissa Patty (7/26/2016 5:01:00 PM)

    Powerful piece of writing! (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Oladipo Daniel Akinnusi Oladipo Daniel Akinnusi (5/25/2016 3:19:00 PM)

    This poem reminds me a proverb saying he that is called and to whom that he called, all shall end one day. Just as poem portrays death in reference to the biblical revelation that a time is nigh when death himself will be put to 'death'. (Report) Reply

  • Er Dheeraj (2/9/2016 2:33:00 PM)

    One of the best examples of apostrophe..........
    The central theme revolves around the temporary existence of death to us.To poet Death seems to be nothing,
    or a temporary sleep that comes to body but not to the souls........According to poet, death is something that makes us sleep for a while, but when the soul leaves the body, perhaps we wake in some other sense in another world and hence death never comes.......... (Report) Reply

  • John Petree (11/29/2015 12:08:00 AM)

    A deep poem centering around death and Death as a symbol; Death, who is master of death and cannot die, except Donne gave death to Death in his poem at the end like a poet who can slum it with the best poets. (Report) Reply

  • Lizz Longo (10/18/2015 8:07:00 PM)

    Love it! (Report) Reply

  • Patience Matsheba Tloubatla (10/17/2015 3:26:00 AM)

    This poem regardless of how many times i read it....it is in my top A list poems.......i lu it (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Dela Sulh (losembe) Joseph Dela Sulh (losembe) (7/1/2015 10:31:00 PM)

    Not ready yet, neither are you. Let me live poor death (Report) Reply

  • Thabani Khumalo Thabani Khumalo (6/16/2015 8:56:00 AM)

    I have a vision to write like this, only if god would bless me enough to.i (Report) Reply

  • Allotey Abossey (5/16/2015 10:36:00 AM)

    One of my favorites (Report) Reply

  • Ishita Chakrabarty Ishita Chakrabarty (8/14/2014 1:56:00 PM)

    This poem is amazing.Short but lucid.What I love about poems is that you are left to construe the lines on your own :) Death annihilates only on a superficial level since soul is immortal. (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 11:14:00 PM)

    .............so nicely he penned this poem on a theme, which is a great cause of anxiety.... (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/21/2014 9:36:00 AM)

    The poet took subject of death in its pure essence and facing the ultimate end of life in its correct spirit and face the challenge in extreme strength of mind. I like the poem very much. (Report) Reply

  • Barockeuse Ange (1/25/2014 9:15:00 AM)

    Dommage que le lecteur du poème n'ai pas l'accent voulu! Ni anglais ancien, ni anglais moderne.. Ce poème lu ainsi ne sonne pas du tout comme John Donne l'a entendu, fait entendre... Que diriez-vous si je le lisais, moi, avec un fort accent frenchy?
    Any english speaker with some knowledge of old english? ? ? I would very much appreciate!

    As for this peculiar poem.. I love it very much. It is very witty and humorous! ! !

    Thanks John! (Report) Reply

  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:16:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language (and poets ourselves) , have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you! (Report) Reply

  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:10:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language, have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L did, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you! (Report) Reply

  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:09:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language, have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L did, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you! (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (4/21/2013 5:00:00 PM)

    Stroke, in this context, does not necessarily signify a light touch, as MR has said. In olden times it could signify a sweeping blow with an axe or sword, as in 'he decapitated him with a single stroke of the axe.' In modern times it is used to describe such sweeping movements as golf or cricket strokes, certainly in British English, though this may be less familiar to the US reader. (Report) Reply

  • Jordan isaacs (4/10/2013 5:20:00 PM)

    what is this poem about (Report) Reply

  • Narasimha Swamy K L (1/9/2013 2:22:00 AM)

    Poor John, It is thee; thou Mankind who ride on Pride.
    Thee call me Mighty and Dreadful, for, Almighty bequeath
    Thee with all the connivance, To get His Holy Son Crucified.
    Thee claim I Overthrow, Though I Overlook thou Vice
    I Die Not, Poor John, for thee overkill mee
    Much Pleasure, For, Rest and Sleep being My pictures
    Mee slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men, For,
    Thee being slave to Greed, Delusion and Callous Brainwork.
    Poyson, Warre and sicknesse being thou Brainchild
    Mee battle to bury the dirt out of thou children’s sight.
    Thee abuse poppy and charmes in vain to behold sleep
    Though I befriend only pure and pristine.
    One short sleep, thee wake eternally to embrace the filth
    And Death shall be no more with thee, for, I die with thee!
    Donne with John (Report) Reply

  • Memo Rexem (12/18/2012 2:10:00 AM)

    Caleb, you're a fool and a harlot. This poem was written in the 1550-1650s, where this WAS common language. Spellings tend to change, over 400 years. You need to translate and adapt, or be stuck with your Dover Beach trash and it's ilk.

    @Charlotte Westbury - Stroake = Stroke, like a light touch. Wondering if it wasn't better to take the poppies and charms, to sleep by his own hand, rather than be struck down by death's touch due to sickness and old age or a sword on some foreign battlefield. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: death, fate



Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001



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