Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so Donne is anthropomorphizing Death Addressing Death as an equal, or inferior Death thinks of himself as powerful & terrifying, as some people have said But in truth, Death is not these things
For those, whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. Death thinks he is “overthrowing” men when he takes them – conquering, vanquishing, defeating, ruining, causing to fall Instead (this is the conceit) – Death causes them to rise Death is the means by which man finds resurrection (literally rise again)
For those, whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. Poor Death = patronizing & sarcastic Death is so deluded that it thinks it is bad for man “nor yet canst thou kill me” = Death does not kill, but is the enabler of a new, immortal life Death holds no power over the speaker
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture(s) 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 Renaissance idea of sleep as Death’s image A sleeping man & a dead man look alike If a man gets pleasure from rest & sleep, which is just a copy of Death, how much more pleasurable will Death the original be?
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture(s) 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 “The best men” realize that Death is good; thus they willingly go to their Death With Death, their bones get to rest (in the grave) and their souls are “delivered” (literally set free)
Thou’rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell Again – Death is not mighty, but is a slave, with “fate, chance, kings and desperate men” as his masters Death does not have the power to choose who is to die – fate & chance may kill, kings may kill or desperate people may take their own lives Poison, war & sickness are Death’s family
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well, And better than they stroke; why swell’st thou then? Return to the Death/sleep image – drugs can also produce sleep. Drugs = truer sleep than Death (because Death is temporary before the resurrection) Death’s pride is false. “why swell’st thou then?” – Since you are so weak, Death, why are you so proud? (image of chest swelling with pride)
One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die After Death we have a short moment of sleep, then “we wake eternally” or forever to eternal life, never to sleep or die again Death will then totally cease to exist. Death will die.
One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die Personified death has been shown to be not “mighty and dreadful” but weaker than humans because death will “be no more” but humans will enjoy eternal life. “Death, thou shalt die” = Death is the one that should be afraid, not the one to be feared.
List four ways in which Death is personified in this poem What paradox runs through the poem?
1 Corinthians 15:26 - The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. 1 Corinthians 15:26 Corinthians 6:14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken
“To die, to sleep - To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there's the rub, For in this sleep of death what dreams may come...”
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.