Summary of the poem Death be not proud

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Nitika asked 2 years ago

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smartenglishnotes Staff answered 2 years ago
Short Summary
The poet John Donne uses the old fashioned Elizabethan English in his poems that type of English that is sometimes referred to as Shakespearean English. In his poem “death be not proud” he dwells on the subject of death and how to overcome it.

Of course no one has power over death therefore overcoming death seems to be a delusion. The poet says that death actually gives men and women a break from all the troubles of the world.
According to the Donne death has its masters and these are forces like chance, fate, kings together with desperate men. The victims of death now have the chance to finally rest while death actually thinks that it is eliminating supposed victims it is offering them relief.

Death is not in power because there are other forces that are responsible for taking lives. Drugs are superior to death in as much death brings relief. The poet then goes ahead to even to condemn death to death! ‘Death, thou shalt die; this shows great irony.

The poet Donne has personified death and now death is like a character in the poem. The first stanza the poem centres 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’.

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.