Death Be Not Proud Poem Analysis

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Poets have used sonnets for centuries to describe popular topics such as love, sex, and religion. Many popular poets, like John Donne, embrace the Christian belief of the afterlife, but he does this in a very unusual way. John Donne uses “Death Be Not Proud” to reinforce his Christian beliefs of eternal life by standing up to the “playground bully” we call Death. Following traditional sonnet form, “Death Be Not Proud” consists of fourteen lines. Periods appear at the end of lines 4, 8, 12, and 14, meaning it is in Petrarchan form. The rhyme scheme is ABBAABBA in the first stanza and CDDCAA in the second, which varies from the traditional ABBAABBA CDCDCD form. Also, we see Donne putting his rhyming words in the middle of lines instead of the end. Each line is depicts perfect iambic pentameter, except for line one, which starts with an accented beat only has nine syllables. In the first quatrain, Donne uses personification to give Death a humanlike complexity. Death’s name is even capitalized to create a proper noun, like death is a person. The speaker directly addresses Death and his confident attitude. Death is a bully who makes everyone scared of him and the terrible things he can accomplish. However, the speaker, who practices his Christian faith, says he is not afraid of Death. The speaker says, “Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me” (4). First, the speaker calls Death “poor Death”, like he is pitying his weakness (4). Lastly, the speaker tells Death that he cannot kill him, which references his idea of the Christian afterlife. Death can end his life on earth, but he cannot kill him because he will live forever in Heaven. In the second quatrain, the speaker tells about how Death is pleasurable. For Christians, Death is what takes them from their earthly life and delivers them to their eternal life in Heaven. In lines 5 and 6, the speaker says, “From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow.” In these lines, he compares Death to sleep and rest, two things that give us pleasure. However, Death is merely a resemblance to these states. Since these things are a weaker version of Death and they give us pleasure, Death should give us much more
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