My views on the poem, “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne

My views on the poem, “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne

“Death Be Not Proud” is a poem written by Donne to express his faith and God. In the poem, the poet uses various devices such as the apostrophe to address death. There is also personification used when Donne is referring to death. Throughout the poem, the author continues to mock death saying that Death cannot kill him. In my views, the poem “Death be not proud” is a reflection on the nature of mortality. The different ways in which individuals can do are poison war and sickness, and none of these can be under the control of death. “And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell” (Donne, 10). According to the poem, we are the masters of death; we usually hold our deaths in our hands, and when we get to eternity, death is no longer important. This review, therefore, focuses on my views on the poem “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne.

The title of the poem comes from the first words; Here, the poet cautions death that it should not be happy because of its conquest nature and the fear that it has installed in the people. According to Donne, death feels mighty and dreadful because it takes the lives of individuals, but he denies its invisibility by saying it is poor and it will not kill him. “Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.” (Donne, 4). According to my views, assuming that Donne was a preacher, he was trying to tell his audience that they should not worry about death because they will not die forever. Donne further uses various paradoxes to attack the conventional nature of death and its invincibility. According to the poet, death does provide not only rest of bones but also the delivery of souls. This was an encouragement to his audience that death should not a fearful experience but rather a form of relaxation. Towards the end of the poem, Donne uses a metaphor to compare death and opium sleep. He challenges death by saying that it is associated with various components such as poison, war, and sickness. However, it should not be happy because some more other drugs such as opium can put an individual into a more and better sleep than death does. In the last two lines, Donne posses a defeat to death saying that people may die but not forever. He also tells death that at the end, it dies and leaves the people alive. This is an encouragement to his audience that they should not be worried about death because it only takes live for a short time, but later there is an eternity.

In the poem, Donne has used various forms and devices to explain his ideology. The poet has used metaphysical wit in the choice of paradox, irony, meter, sounds, diction, and techniques. There are three quatrains and a final unrhyming couplet in the structure of “Death, not be proud.” Each quatrain in the first sentence contains an important link that denounces death. The couplet in the structure of the poem summarizes the attack with a declaration of faith in afterlife certainty and after the defeat of death. The first quatrain says that death cannot fully eliminate its victims forever and it ends with the pronoun “me.” This is a way of proving that the poet has the power to defy death. The second quatrain shows the pressures that death puts on an individual, but it does not win; at the end of the day, it delivers the soul to eternity. The third quatrain names that components that induce death and ends with the only question in the poem which recalls the first four words. Why is death proud yet it is not strong enough as its imagines to be? Donne used personification as the principle poetic technique to challenge death; he talks as if he was involved in single combat with death. Death comes to individuals in many ways, and this makes it feel strong and energetic. However, in the poem, Donne personifies death as a weak individual despite all these myriad forms that it appears in. The poet also uses regular and unconventional prosodic stress to diminish the power of death. He uses pounding sustained stress when he wants to attack death. “And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die” (Donne, 14) He also uses the regular iambic beat to show that death is not feared.  “And soonest our best men with thee do go” (Donne, 7).

In conclusion, Donne has clearly illustrated the inferiority of death; he does not run away from death, but he faces and diminishes it to the unrhyming and isolated last words of the poem. Most of the words in the poem contains the letters “d” and “t” which are found in the word “death.” Examples of such words include, “desperate,” “dost,” “canst,” “art” and “proud”; all these attacks death under its phonetic ground.
















Donne, John. “Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud.” The Poetry Foundation (2000).

Turner, Victor. Dramas, fields, and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society. Cornell University Press, 2018.

Nishimura, Satoshi. “Personification: Its Functions and Boundaries.” Papers on Language and Literature 50.1 (2014): 90.

Hughes, Leander S. “Parsed Text Format Versus Regular Block Format in Online Extensive Reading1.” Language Education in Asia: 20.