Is Death the Finale?
Death has always been an intriguing topic in literature. Writers have been confounded by the idea of death and the unknown afterlife for centuries. Some people believe death is the end of all things because nothing can withstand it. In John Donne’s poem, “Death, be not proud,” the poet explains his personal understanding of death and its permanence. This poem is a narrative sonnet. Although this sonnet follows the rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet (abba cddc effe gg), it also has the elements of an English sonnet because it has three quatrains and a concluding couplet. In the case of this poem, the three quatrains represent three examples of why Death isn’t as powerful as it seems and the couplet acts as a conclusion to the poet’s proclamation.
In this poem, John Donne personifies Death and talks to it as if it is a person. In the first stanza of “Death, be not proud,” Donne states that Death shouldn’t be proud because it is not as “mighty and dreadful (2)” as some people may think. Even though Death thinks he is overthrowing man when he takes them, he still does not have the power to kill or take away life. Therefore, the poet mockingly tells “poor Death (4)” that he holds no control over man. In the second stanza, the poet states, that a dead man resembles a sleeping man in pictures. Therefore, if man gets pleasure out of rest and sleep, than Death is essentially a longer, much more pleasurable sleep. As a result, the best men will go unhesitatingly with Death to rest their bones in a grave and deliver their souls to God and heaven. The third stanza, Donne further states the idea that Death is not mighty, but a “slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men (9)” because all of the fore mentioned can take life away. The personified Death does not always have the power to choose who is to die. Fate and chance may suddenly take someone, or a king may put a man to his death, or even a desperate man, who believes he has no reason to...
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