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Thread: Death, be not proud

  1. #1

    Death, be not proud

    First, that is not the correct title of John Donne's poem. The correct title is Holy Sonnet 10.

    Secondly, I absolutly love this poem. I especially like how he makes Death almost human. I also find the last line quite amusing. Got to love the pun. ^_^

  2. #2
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    I have always loved this sonnet also; thank you for bringing up the subject. For those unfamiliar:

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
    For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee do go,
    Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
    Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
    And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

    I also find it so interesting that poets of Donne's era describe Death so well as a human, up to the time of Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. I once did a ridiculously-long comparative essay between this sonnet and "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" by Dickinson. Where the two deviate from each other, however, seems that Donne describes Death as mortal ("Death, thou shalt die") and Dickinson indentifies Death as immortal in his carriage.
    Both seem immortal poets, to say the least. Going back on the subject of Donne, he seems to have the ability to write in every style ideally - love, death, a few in humor, reflective.

  3. #3
    Balanced and calm
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    Also consider that there have been variations made to all of his sonnets over time. Especially in the last line of Holy Sonnet X. The punctuation between "no more" and "Death, thou shalt die." is a contested subject in some circles. Look up the play "W;t" by Edson. There is an interesting passage there about that very thing. It is another interesting way of how Death could be interpreted in this sonnet.

  4. #4
    Registered User Eidolon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ice_Phoenix
    Also consider that there have been variations made to all of his sonnets over time. Especially in the last line of Holy Sonnet X. The punctuation between "no more" and "Death, thou shalt die." is a contested subject in some circles. Look up the play "W;t" by Edson. There is an interesting passage there about that very thing. It is another interesting way of how Death could be interpreted in this sonnet.
    If you don't want to read the play, I believe Wit is on movie shelves too. I saw it on satellite not too long ago. Beautifully done.
    Nor was I hungry; so I found
    That hunger was a way
    Of persons outside windows,
    The entering takes away.


    Hunger by Emily Dickinson

  5. #5
    The actual title of the poem is in fact: Holy Sonnet 10.
    But often time in reference to poems, the first line of the poem may be specified instead of the actual title. In example, pick up the original book of poems of Emily Dickinson, go to the index; when finding a specific poem, don't you think they would put the title of the poem? It is not like that, they put the first line of each poem.
    Just wanted to correct you on that. Other than than this is one of Donne's best poems in my opinon, although The Flea (Mark but this flea, and mark in this...), and The Indifferent (I can love both fair and brown...) are also my favorites as well.

  6. #6
    an innate contradiction verybaddmom's Avatar
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    dont forget "the sonne rising"...best poem EVER..imo
    and yay to hear folks discussing Donne. highly underrated pastime
    Then we sat on the edge of the earth, with our feet dangling over the side, and marvelled that we had found each other.

  7. #7
    thinker? jessezzel's Avatar
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    Anyone ever read The Flea, its brilliant.
    "It is not a novel to be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force." - Dorothy Parker

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    Hello, I'm new on these forums. I have to do a poem analysis, and I chose this poem. I need someones opinions on the meaning of a few lines.

    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,


    And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
    And better then thy stroke; why swell'st thou then;



  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Juggernot
    Hello, I'm new on these forums. I have to do a poem analysis, and I chose this poem. I need someones opinions on the meaning of a few lines.

    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,


    And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
    And better then thy stroke; why swell'st thou then;
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,


    We get pleasure from resting and sleeping. When asleep or at rest, we appear to be dead (this explains ‘which but thy pictures be’). Therefore, as sleep is a kind of death and sleep is pleasurable, death must be more pleasurable.

    And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
    And better then thy stroke; why swell'st thou then;

    Poppies (renowned for their soporific effect) and magic spells can make us sleep as well and even better than death can. Why then is death so arrogant?

  10. #10
    Registered User Aurelian's Avatar
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    yep, I loooove The Flea (and Sonne Rising) and..i WORSHIP your avatar. Stanley Kubrick...Malcolm McDowell...I heart you! ^__^

    Quote Originally Posted by jessezzel
    Anyone ever read The Flea, its brilliant.
    <3 Rubrior Quam Rosa. Pallidius Quam Lillia. Pulchrior Quam Omni. Semper In Te Veneratium. <3

  11. #11
    thinker? jessezzel's Avatar
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    why thank you...
    "It is not a novel to be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force." - Dorothy Parker

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    Hi, I'm new to this. After reading this poem, I'm still confused and don't really get what the meaning he is trying to say. Can anyone help me a bit?

  13. #13
    Registered User tinustijger's Avatar
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    I love the poem, I'm no expert, and it's a long time since you wrote that post above but I'll give my opinion. Please say if I'm wrong/if you interpreted it differently.

    It's just about the fact that death can be overcome. That it's not the most powerfull thing ever (though some people see it as the ultimate 'power') "Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me." He, Donne, stands above death. (or at least he thinks he does) Poor Death instead of mighty Death.
    I especially love the last lines:
    "One short sleep past we wake eternally, and death shall be no more, death thou shalt die"
    We die, but almoast immediately after that 'unpleasant' moment, we are in "heaven", where there's no more death or fear of death.

    I love the poem

    And that film: W;t is greatt too! Emma Thompson (!!!) plays the main character, very moving, and true.

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