Comparison of "Death Be Not Proud" and "On My First Son"

Topics: John Donne, England, Ben Jonson Pages: 2 (807 words) Published: January 6, 2008
Death has always been a controversial topic with two sides always battling with each other. The side that says that death is a terrible stage in life that take people that you love away. Or the side that believes that death is just a resting period between this world and the afterlife. The poems "On My First Son" by Ben Jonson and "Death Be Not Proud" by John Donne are perfect examples of those two arguing sides. "On My First Son" has a very distinct tone of being sad and morbid about death that is evident throughout the poem. On the other hand "Death Be Not Proud" has an angry and witty tone about death, saying that death should not be feared but embraced.

The poem "On My First Son" is a elegy about Ben Jonson's son who died at the age of 7. Ben Jonson looks at death as a terrible stage in life that has taken away his son at such a young age. He can not understand why God has taken his son away so soon and wishes that it was he himself that God had chosen as expressed in this quote "Will man lament the state he should envy?" (Line 6). Ben Jonson uses figurative language throughout the poem to strengthen his sad and morbid tone. The author used two types of figurative language in the first line of his poem, "Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;"(line 1). He first addresses a "farewell" to his son which is an apostrophe since his son can not answer. He also made a biblical reference to Jesus being at the right hand of God, called an allusion. Ben Jonson strengthens his tone by using an extended metaphor in lines 3 and 4, "Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay, Exacted by thy fate, on the just day." That metaphor of God "lending" Ben his first son really keeps the reader interested and creates a nice flow carried throughout the poem. Towards the end of the poem we learn that the author can no longer love so strongly in fear that whatever he loves will be taken away from him.

"Death Be Not Proud" is a sonnet by John Donne...
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