Death Be Not Proud

by JOHN DONNE (1572-1631)

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.

John Donne

The actuality, the intensity, and the individuality of Donne represent a new note in English poetry. Elizabethan love poetry is rarely personal. Ideal and graceful though it commonly is, it is at the same time decidedly mannered, full of affectation and imitation, and … too often either patently false, or conventional and cold. Donne may be brutal or ugly, but he is not cold, still less conventional. Fantastic to excess as he often is, he writes of his own experience. ….

… John Donne was born in the neighbourhood of Bread Street, London, in 1573. His father, a prosperous ironmonger, died two years after his birth. His maternal grandfather, no other than John Heywood, the famous writer of interludes in Henry VIII’s reign, died in the Low Countries a few years later …continue

John Donne Contemporaries
Andrew Marvell
Ben Jonson
William Shakespeare

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