Death Be Not Proud By John Donne

            The poem, “Death be not proud” is a piece of poetry showing the religious undertones in Donne’s poetry. It is included as Sonnet X in the volume of Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations. It is remarkable for its idea, presentation and the harsh tone of the poet who personifies death and wants to give the message: “Death does not kill us; rather it is death which itself dies and makes us independent of it.”

            The poem “Death Be Not Proud” is a forceful announcement made against death. It is believed that death is powerful and the poet says that death feels pride in being harsh to all of us but the poet personifies death in the form of a tyrant who actually, according to the poet, does not have any power. In the very first lines, the poet adops a harsh tone and scolds death personifying that it has no power as it is thought by most of the people. So, it should not be proud of its power. Those who have fallen a victim to it are actually not dead. The poet thinks and talks to it in dismissive terms that even it cannot kill the poet. “Nor yet canst thou kill me.” It is just like a sleep which we all have to find at lat to find some comfort and rest. That is why, according to the poet, the people having innate goodness in themselves leave this world at an early age because it is death that confers their soul the real emancipation from the prison of their bodies. It is the best way for the death to give them piece and comfort. “And soonest our best men with thee do go.”
            Then, the poet talks of its art and skill. He says that death may definitely be the slave of fate, chance, kings or desperate men. Poison, war and sickness are its valuable weapons to do its task of killing the people. “And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell.” It has just one capability and that capability is of killing the people and giving the people a chance to have rest for short time in the grave. “One short sleep past, wee wake eternally.”But when one enters the heaven, its power loses its effect on one. The poet concludes his poem saying that when death comes to us, we become independent of death. However, it is death which itself dies when it comes to us. “Death, thou shall die.” We can say the end of the poem is on a paradox. “Man is immortal; death is mortal.” Here in these lines, the poet is stressing Christian philosophy. According to Christian philosophy, those that believe that Christ will never die but live eternally, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John)

To sum up, “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne is a passionate piece of writing that is imbued with emotion and sounds. It is a sonnet that passionately argues against the formidability of death. The poem is actually referring to the ‘Christian Hope of Eternal Life’ as the ultimate escape from death. In doing so, he offers secular arguments and enlightens the readers mind with the real concept of death. Above all these positive points, there are some other qualities of the poem that make it a distinguished poem in the history of literature. We can say that the poem is a master-piece having immense beauty of language, structure, literary ideas and the style of expressing the opinion.                                                                       (Words: 588)