Art and Literature

Analysis of John Donnes’ “Death Be Not Proud” as a Metaphysical Poem

Analysis of John Donnes’ “Death Be Not Proud” as a Metaphysical Poem


In this blog post, we shall take a close look into John Donnes” Death Be Not Proud” as a Metaphysical Poem. Also, the literary and figures of speech will be analysed.

John Donnes’ “Death Be Not Proud” as a Metaphysical Poem

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful for, thou are not so

For, those, whom think'st, thou doest overthrow

Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me

From rest and sleep, which but thy picture 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•rt 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 shall die.

Analysis of John Donnes’ “Death Be Not Proud” as a Metaphysical Poem

Clearly, this poem teaches wisdom or what is right. The wisdom taught in the poem is the fact that it is needless for man to be afraid of death either through war, disease, accident or oppression.

John Donne uses these two arguments. First, Death itself has no gain for stopping human life. Therefore, man should not be afraid of death since man himself knows that he must die one day according to the way God Almighty has laid it down under a man’s fate or destiny.

Second, a time will come when Death itself will die as soon as all men have been called to eternal rest (i.e there will no life again to be stopped by Death) when the day of judgment comes.

Recommended: Analysis of Williams Wordworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us ” as a Romantic Poem

Further, John Donne counsels man that whenever death kills a man, that is not the end. Such a man has only gone for a rest until the day of judgment, in a way man sleeps in order to rest after the day’s job.

Beside, the images used in this poem are much real and simple to understand.

Everybody can easily understand the picture of war, sickness, poison, sleep, kings, desperate men (i.e armed robbers, soldiers and hired-killers)

In addition, we can all see that the poem is a sonnet. The end rhyme scheme is

a b b a a b b a c dc de f.

Analysis of Figures of Speech and Literary Devices in John Donnes’ “Death Be Not Proud”

Recommended: Analysis and Meaning of Metaphysical, Romantic and Negritude Poetry

In terms of rhythm, the poem contains alliteration in lines 4 and Also, lines 10, 11, 12 and 14 are in parallelisms.

Concerning figures of speech, apostrophe is predominantly used because of the way John Donne addresses death as if it were a human being.

Remember that the apostrophe is a figure of speech in which an inanimate matter is addressed as a human being.

Beside the use of apostrophe, metaphor was applied in the way death is compared to sleep or rest.

Recommended: Analysis of Dennis Osadebey’s “Young African’s Plea” as a Romantic Poem

Also, metonymy in the way evil doer human beings were called desperate men in line 9 of the poem.

The metaphysical poetry was popularized in early 17th century (i.e. 16001699).

The most important metaphysical poets included John Donne who lived between 1571 — 1631.

Abraham Cowley who lived between 1618 and 1667,

Andrew Marvell who lived between 1622 and 1695; and

John Dryden who lived between 1639 and 1700.

Meanwhile, John Donne was the greatest of the above listed metaphysical poets.

Davidposh of Campusvibes

I'm a dedicated and progressive individual with an exceptional work ethic and client oriented service aptitude. I write to inform and educate. Currently I'm an English language students Lagos State University.

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