LT4: Death be not proud- Donne

john donne has taken a romantic form and
transformed a transcendental struggle of life and death into a quiet ending, one in which death “shall be no more”
Briefly summarize the poem by the words of a critic.

‘death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so’
in using this technique the author is able to apply human qualities which make death tangible and a being in which the narrator can entertain an argument and eventually win his case based upon christian philosophy
John Donne starts the poem in utilizing the figurative language of personification.

bold, assertive and aggressive
The opening of the poem is…

donne treats themes of sin, grace, and redemption in his holy Sonnets, for his god, though loving, righteously will punish the transgressions the speaker very adamantly admits
Themes in Donne’s holy sonnets.

each of the first two quatrains consists of a single sentence that apostrophises death, and the
concluding sestet shapes itself as a four-line question followed by a succinct though paradoxical answer in the
concluding couplet to the central issue of the poem- death should not be proud, because it, like human beings,
‘shalt die’

the first quatrain introduces the central metaphor of personifying death as “mighty and dreadful” only to
dismiss these qualities with a quick “for thou art not so” and the condescending adjective “poor,” as if death
simply does not understand how really unimportant it is in the grand scheme of God’s plans.
First half of poem

the rhyme of thee and me establishes the conflict the speaker creates between himself and death, and the word
overthrow repeats the situational metaphor that death and he are in a battle, the stakes of which, as the
poem goes on to establish, are his life and immortal soul.
Conflict within the poem

elliot argued that donne’s poetry possesses a capacity to synthesize emotional and intellectual experience so that the reader can “feel…thought as immediately as the odor of a rose.”
Elliot on Donne

undertone of deep spiritual dissatisfaction and anguish
The Holy Sonnets carry an …

they represent ‘a series of efforts to experience those states of feeling that either precede or are concomitant with contrition’
Quote on the Holy Sonnets

By pretending that death is a person Donne can believe, or appear to believe, that he dominates it
Critical quote