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(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

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Death Be Not Proud

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001


Read poems about / on: death, fate

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Comments about this poem (A Valediction Of Weeping by John Donne )

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  • Barockeuse Ange (1/25/2014 9:15:00 AM)

    Dommage que le lecteur du poème n'ai pas l'accent voulu! Ni anglais ancien, ni anglais moderne.. Ce poème lu ainsi ne sonne pas du tout comme John Donne l'a entendu, fait entendre... Que diriez-vous si je le lisais, moi, avec un fort accent frenchy?
    Any english speaker with some knowledge of old english? ? ? I would very much appreciate!

    As for this peculiar poem.. I love it very much. It is very witty and humorous! ! !

    Thanks John!

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:16:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language (and poets ourselves) , have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you!

  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:10:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language, have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L did, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you!

  • Salvador Oria (7/12/2013 11:09:00 AM)

    Many of us students of English as a foreign language, have read and analised more than once this awsome poem, where Donne, in a way, despises Death as a kind of impostor. But I never dreamt of, that there might come a day, that I’d find a blog where someone as Narasimha Swamy K L did, taking the Leveller’s place, would reply Donne as he deserved! Great lines Narasimha. Thank you!

  • Stephen W (4/21/2013 5:00:00 PM)

    Stroke, in this context, does not necessarily signify a light touch, as MR has said. In olden times it could signify a sweeping blow with an axe or sword, as in 'he decapitated him with a single stroke of the axe.' In modern times it is used to describe such sweeping movements as golf or cricket strokes, certainly in British English, though this may be less familiar to the US reader.

  • Jordan isaacs (4/10/2013 5:20:00 PM)

    what is this poem about

  • Narasimha Swamy K L (1/9/2013 2:22:00 AM)

    Poor John, It is thee; thou Mankind who ride on Pride.
    Thee call me Mighty and Dreadful, for, Almighty bequeath
    Thee with all the connivance, To get His Holy Son Crucified.
    Thee claim I Overthrow, Though I Overlook thou Vice
    I Die Not, Poor John, for thee overkill mee
    Much Pleasure, For, Rest and Sleep being My pictures
    Mee slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men, For,
    Thee being slave to Greed, Delusion and Callous Brainwork.
    Poyson, Warre and sicknesse being thou Brainchild
    Mee battle to bury the dirt out of thou children’s sight.
    Thee abuse poppy and charmes in vain to behold sleep
    Though I befriend only pure and pristine.
    One short sleep, thee wake eternally to embrace the filth
    And Death shall be no more with thee, for, I die with thee!
    Donne with John

  • Memo Rexem (12/18/2012 2:10:00 AM)

    Caleb, you're a fool and a harlot. This poem was written in the 1550-1650s, where this WAS common language. Spellings tend to change, over 400 years. You need to translate and adapt, or be stuck with your Dover Beach trash and it's ilk.

    @Charlotte Westbury - Stroake = Stroke, like a light touch. Wondering if it wasn't better to take the poppies and charms, to sleep by his own hand, rather than be struck down by death's touch due to sickness and old age or a sword on some foreign battlefield.

  • Caleb Joyce (8/21/2012 4:39:00 AM)

    Well...I'm a fan and advocate of poetry written according to Wordsworth's ideals, outlined in his 'Preface to the Lyrical Ballads.' This poem is the farthest thing from that. Poetry should be written in every day language, and strike a note with the reader allowing him to relate to it, while still being able to get the author's point across...this poem doesn't give me any sense of familiarity and is by no means conversational. Give me Dover Beach over this any day.

  • Alok Mishra (4/21/2012 3:47:00 AM)

    This poem is one I had a reading when I did my +2. Now I see this with a different eye... It is so deep in sense, so great in style and so amazing as a whole!

Read all 35 comments »

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