Short Summary of “Death be Not Proud” by John Donne

The poet Donne has personified death and now death is like a character in the poem. The first stanza the poem centers on the subject of the poem death and the audience. In the first line the poet sends death a warning not to be proud and in line two he asks death to re-evaluate his stand as the ‘mighty and dreadful’ power.

The first stanza is concluded that even the victims of death who death claims to have eliminated do not die ‘die not’ and even the poet himself believes that death cannot strike him he says ‘poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me’.

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The second stanza is full of praise for death a big contrast to the first stanza which was only full of condemnation for death. Death is being praised for its good traits. Death is associated with pleasure the poet talks of ‘much pleasure’ from the ‘rest and sleep’. The poet suggests that death is a source of relief from all the pain in the world. The victims of death get ‘rest of their bones’.

Donne then goes back to condemning death again and accusing it having too much regard of itself. The poet suggests that death is not supreme and that there are forces that death is but a ‘slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men.

Desperate men are those who decide to take their own lives in order to flee from the world suffering. Death is still inferior because the rest it provides can be attained through ‘charms’ or ‘poppy’. Drugs can offer similar rest to death.

At the end the poet condemns death to death because cannot actually kill anyone as it is a slave to greater forces. Death to the poet has its own fate death. Being that the Donne is a Christian and borrows from his Christian background that resurrection as the ultimate prize of believers he believes he will overcome death.

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