Life, Death, and Poetry

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John Donne's poem "Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud" reminded me of the Emily Dickinson poem "Because I could not stop for Death."  I think that both authors were just trying to say how they felt about religion, life, and death.  Donne writes, "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee/ Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;"  He is showing his belief in the idea that souls live eternally.  He does not identify where these souls will be after death, but he does believe in life after death.  Both authors seem to believe in a life after death that prevents them from fearing death.  I noticed that some people made comments that Dickinson's work seemed to be morbid and dark, but I think that both of these authors have a bright and positive outlook on death that everyone should have.   Even if one believes that there is no life after death, one should not live life constantly fearing the end of it.  I love the line when Donne writes, "Death, thou shalt die."  To me, this line is really positive.  He is saying that "Yeah, I have to die, but I will live this life to the fullest and will not fear death because I have another life and adventure waiting for me after death.  Death will be the only thing that is dead to me."




Jeanine O'Neal said:

I actually chose that quote "Death, thou shalt die" for my blog entry. You can see what I said about it here:

Not only did Donne not fear death, he actually saw death as pleasurable. He basically said so in lines 5 and 6.

Even if a person doesn't believe in eternity, there is no sense fearing death because it's going to happen to all of us anyways.

Stephanie Wytovich said:

I liked how you concluded your entry with "Death is the only thing that is dead to me." I think that summed up his opinion on the subject very well.

I also wanted to note that even though his perspective is not completely dark, I still think that it comes across gloomy. I mean, writing about death is hard to compare to writing about heaven.

Angelica Guzzo said:

I also saw that Donne is talking about souls living on after death. I thought Donne is saying not to fear death.

Angela Palumbo said:

Erica’s comment made me think about the poem a little more. I had thought of the fact that Death would die because one day death will be no more but I did not think of the fact that after one is dead, he/she no longer has to fear death. In a sense, Death dies a little each time a person dies. I also noticed Donne’s use of strong adjectives to describe death like “mighty” and “dreadful” because many see death as an ominous thing that happens to everyone. There is even the popular saying, “The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes.” To think of Death as a creature really puts a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. What I do not understand about this poem is the fact that he has mainly written it in iambic pentameter except for line 1 (with 9 syllables) and lines 9 and 11 (each with 11 syllables.) Why did he deviate from his pattern? I would guess that he would change the pattern to give importance but the lines that do not follow the iambic pentameter are by no means his most profound statements. The best guess that I can formulate is that he wanted to simulate an irregular heartbeat with the meter. This would infer that Death himself taken back by the speaker’s bold statement or it could also be the speaker himself who is nervous to stand up to Death. Can anyone come up with a better suggestion?

I really liked your analysis, Erica. I do believe that Donne is trying to tell us not to see death as such an ominous thing. Death is just the tiny moment between mortality and immortality. I enjoyed how you concluded with: "Death will be the only thing that is dead to me." That pretty much sums it up in one quote. :)

Ally Hall said:

I also chose this quote to discuss in my blog. I interpreted it to mean that Donne was saying we shouldn't fear death, and like you, I said in my blog that we should embrace it because death is, after all, the start of a brand new adventure. And I loved how you ended your agenda item. :)

Deana Kubat said:

i agree with you but i also disagree. i think that its more then just the souls live eternally, but its more that death lives eternally while the souls do die. further in the poem it takes about all the types of people that there are socially and that one day they will all die and just become bones and souls again.

Richelle Dodaro said:

I used this quote for my blog and you and I seem to be on the same page on this. I see Donne as conveying death as something positive and something we should not be afraid of. I just didn't see a sense of there not being life after death.

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Recent Comments

Richelle Dodaro on Life, Death, and Poetry: I used this quote for my blog
Deana Kubat on Life, Death, and Poetry: i agree with you but i also di
Ally Hall on Life, Death, and Poetry: I also chose this quote to dis
Lauren Miller on Life, Death, and Poetry: I really liked your analysis,
Angela Palumbo on Life, Death, and Poetry: Erica’s comment made me think
Angelica Guzzo on Life, Death, and Poetry: I also saw that Donne is talki
Stephanie Wytovich on Life, Death, and Poetry: I liked how you concluded your
Jeanine O'Neal on Life, Death, and Poetry: I actually chose that quote "D