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,
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Form: Sonnet


Comments about Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

  • (4/21/2009 12:16:00 PM)


    I'm a big fan of Donne's poetry.
    However, why would he think that death was proud? How would he know?
    Perhaps death is very humble. This is, of course, Donne's take on death in this particular poem. So, it's his privilege to believe this. This belief is, after all, the premise for his poem. No premise, no poem.

    All poets address, at some point or other, the theme of death.
    Thomas: 'Death shall have no dominion'
    Paraphrasing William Empson (I believe) : death is a subject we should be silent about.
    I'm not sure who (it may also be Empson) , but someone said something like-'Death is the trigger to the literary man's biggest gun.'
    Implying his view of death, Jung said that life 'is a luminous pause between two great mysteries which yet are one.' There is a case to be made that what happens after life is what happened before.

    Beautifully done as this sonnet is, I must admit I am in the camp with those who think Donne, in this poem, was attempting to assuage his own fears. Which is, if one considers it, a valid motivation for any poet.
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  • Kevin Straw (4/21/2009 6:39:00 AM)


    In our local cemetery there lies a man whose surname is Death.
    'So shalt thou feed on death that feeds on men, /Then, death once dead, there's no more dying then.' (Shakespeare, Sonnet 146) .
    The first time I read Donne I felt a spell had come over me that forced me to read on, even though I was not quite sure of the meaning.
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/12/2008 7:15:00 AM)


    As a child reading John Donne poetry for the first time it was always amazing how this man looked at death, people say he was obsessed with it. To a certain excend I agree, but John Donne was doing what most people in this day and age cannot do and that is facing the one thing he feared. He shows us no matter how small you may think you are facing the one thing you fear helps you conque anything that you fear. The empowerment at the end of the poem ' one short sleep and you wake up eternaly and Death will be no more, Death you will die...' He kills Death and that liberates him from his fear. (Report) Reply

  • (4/21/2008 8:33:00 AM)


    I don't know about ultimate statements of defiance or everlasting
    connections between poet and God, but I do know that Donne's
    sonnet represents a monument of metaphysical poetry. Yes, he
    was obsessed with death, but he also yearned for union with God
    and ultimate salvation. How he expressed that obsession and
    yearning in his poetry was in the striking imagery and the use of
    ordinary speech, new for his time (17th century) and place.

    Metaphysical poetry is marked by highly complex and greatly
    compressed meanings. Read the sonnet with these features in
    mind and compare it to some of today's poetry and note the
    similar tone and attitude!
    (Report) Reply

  • (4/21/2008 8:33:00 AM)


    I don't know about ultimate statements of defiance or everlasting
    connections between poet and God, but I do know that Donne's
    sonnet represents a monument of metaphysical poetry. Yes, he
    was obsessed with death, but he also yearned for union with God
    and ultimate salvation. How he expressed that obsession and
    yearning in his poetry was in the striking imagery and the use of
    ordinary speech, new for his time (17th century) and place.

    Metaphysical poetry is marked by highly complex and greatly
    compressed meanings. Read the sonnet with these features in
    mind and compare it to some of today's poetry and note the
    similar tone and attitude!
    (Report) Reply

  • Brian Dorn (7/25/2006 9:32:00 AM)


    The ultimate statement of defiance... death has no infinate power, it's simply a momentary state which quickly gives way to eternal life. (Report) Reply

  • (6/28/2006 12:57:00 PM)


    Contrary to what others may think, I believe this poem bespeaks of the everlasting connection Donne believed he had with the Eternal. Yea, though Death stalked him, as well as all, royal or base, in the After-life he would rejoice in everlasting happiness. This thought made him unafraid of the mundane problem of Death, as he believed that Death was only a minor inconvenience to be endured by all people on their way to the glorious here-after! In it, he attempts to rise above the temporal and claim a 'moral high-ground! ' (Report) Reply

  • (11/26/2005 4:28:00 AM)


    This poem is a wonderful masterpiece created by John Donne. Although John comments on the futile ways of death trying to scare us, the extreme aggression implies that deep down inside, he is still unsure and afraid of the 'unknown'. (Report) Reply

  • (6/24/2005 11:48:00 AM)


    I wonder......... Who's laughing now? (Report) Reply

  • (3/31/2005 5:56:00 AM)


    It's a poetic extolment of man's immortality inspite of death.The human soul is only being help back to his creator where he rests. (Report) Reply



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