This poem was written by John Donne who is considered a metaphysical poet in the Elizabethan period.Metaphysical poets analyzed love, religion and life from a psychological point of view.
This Holly Sonnet presents an argument against the power of death .The poet addresses Death as a person . He gives physical characteristics to inanimate ideaor concept .
Mighty: powerful Thee: you Delivery: to reach freedom Slave: servant Fate: destiny Desperate: one who feds up Dost: does Sickness: ill Poppy: red flower which gives us opium Charms: different ways of putting person to sleep Stroke: attack Swell: to become big Eternally: forever Shalt: shall
Abba / abba / abba / aa In this sonnet, John Donne mix the Shakespearian and the Petrarchan sonnet.(Shakespearian, according to the division – Petrarchan, according to the rhyme scheme.
The first quatrain: In the first line, the speaker is personifying death telling him that he shouldn’t be proudalthough some people call him mighty anddreadful, but it is not so and this is the reasonfor not being proud.The speaker then says that death cannot do anything because he things that he killed
many people but actually they are not dead. Then he adresses death, saying that death is a poor thing even though he cannot destroy orkill him.The second quatrain: The speaker is giving us a proof that death is just like sleep and rest . He is comparing deathto sleep and rest. He is asking what we getfrom sleep and rest but pleasure and if sleepand rest are a copy from the original, so from
Death we are going to get more pleasure. The speaker is telling us that when death come to us it well free our souls and it well rest ourbones and our souls will fly from this prisonwhich is the body, so he is telling us that weshouldn’t be afraid from it because it happeneveryday.
The speaker is giving us another proof that death is not mighty. He is considering death asa slave to faith because the slaves can’t controlthemselves but they obey orders especiallywhen people want to commit suicide, he goeswith them and also he is a slave to chance andkings.
Then the speaker is describing to us the place when death is living in and that it issurrounded by poison, wars and sickness. Sohe is not powerful or mighty because if it wasso, it can change its surroundings.The speaker is saying that anyone can have a long sleep by using drugs or any kind ofmedicine.
So death is not strong enough and this is better than striking us because we will be waiting todie.After all, the speaker is asking him why he is proud of himself.
The speaker is telling death that he is not afraid of him because after this sleep, he will wake upand live eternally and death, in the otherlife, will have no place for him and he shall befinished .
The poem is full of Alliteration: Line 1: though – thee Line 3: those – thou Line 4: die – death / canst – kill Line 6: much – more - must / then – thee / from – flowLine 10: dost – dwell / with – war Line 12: than – thy / thou – then Line 13: one – we – wake Line 14: death – die / shall - shalt
He compares death to a slave Metaphor with personification: Death, be not proud.He compares death to a person who is proud Donne ends the poem with paradox and irony: Death, thou shalt die.
Death is given negative human traits: pride mainly Death is likened to sleep, a commonplace image Poppy and charms refer to the use of opium and magic to produce sleep, or to produce a gentledeath.Poppy is metonymy , it is what is derived from the poppy that is the opiate, not literally the floweritself
Donne’s theme tells the reader that death has no right to be proud.This poem is a metaphysical poem: It deals with human experience as much of the poetry that was written during those time.However, the poets of the era being intelligent and educated meant that the poetry they wrotewould tackle the profound areas of experience.