English Chronicles of Time ( Death not be Proud) 2.1
CHRONICLES OF TIME
Death Be Not Proud (John Donne)
Described By– Dr. Pooja
Rishikul Sanskrit College Gurugam/Rohtak
Death not be proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthow
Die not, poor death, not 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 souls’ 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.
Summary of the Poem
Death be not Proud
‘Death Be Not Proud” is one of the nineteen Holy Sonnets written by the great metaphysical poet John Donne. As a typical product of Renaissance, Donne wrote a kind of love and religious poetry that shocked its readers into attention with its wit, conceits, far-fetched imagery, erudition complexity, colloquial and dramatic styles. Donne’s poetry exemplifies the rare synthesis of reason and passion – a unique quality which is termed as the “Unified Sensibility.”
This poem forcefully demolishes the popular conception of death as a powerful tyrant. The poet presents an unconventional view of death. By addressing the poem to death, Donne says that Death should not feel proud of itself.
Death is neither frightening nor powerful although some people have called it so. It has no power over the soul which is immortal. The poet explains his idea through the examples of rest and sleep. He says that rest and sleep are only the pictures of death. We derive pleasure from rest and sleep. So death itself should provide much more pleasure, which is the real thing. Secondly our best men get death very soon. Their bones get rest and their soul gets freedom. Hence death is not frightening thing.
Now the poet blasts the popular belief that death is all powerful. Death, in fact is a captive, a slave to the power of fate, chance, cruel kings and bed men. It lives in the bad company of poison, war and sickness. Opium and other narcotics are as effective as death in inducing us to sleep. They, actually, make us sleep better. Death cannot operate at its own level. So death should not feel proud of its powers.
In the ends, the poet once again says that death is a kind of sleep, after which the soul will wake up to, live forever and becomes immortal. Then death has no power over us. In other words the soul conquers death; it is the death which itself dies. Thus Donne degrades death and declares happily the impotence of death. It is, in no way, powerful and dreadful. So we should not fear death as it has no power over our souls.