Nobody can talk smack on Death like John Donne

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"One short sleep past, we wake eternally,/ And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die" ("Holy Sonnets:Death, be no proud" by Donne).

   I'll admit the first few times I read this poem I thought, "I don't get it.  So this person's talking smack on Death."  The more I read it over, the more I understood what he is talking about and why this is one of the "Holy Sonnets."  Once I finally understood that the narrator is telling Death that he will have eternal life in heaven but Death will eventually happen no longer after the second coming of Jesus, everything made perfect sense.  In fact, I found the poem quite empowering.  I really enjoy the thought of conquering something that seems unconquerable, Death being one of them.  Yes, one day I will die and it may suck but I will move on it is my belief and Death will, indeed, eventually die.  What a poem!  What a Message!  This has become one of my favorite poems (along with the other poem we had to read for tonight coincidently.)

2 Comments

Jeanine O'Neal said:

I don't necessarily think he is talking about the second coming of Jesus where all bodies and souls will be raised to heaven and death will be no more (it may just be that I don't believe in such a thing that I don't see this in the poem). I do have to agree with you though that Donne is "talking smack" on death. He basically insults death by telling him that he is pleasurable rather than scary, can be mimicked with drugs such as opium (poppies), and is a “slave to fate.”

Angela Palumbo said:

Jeanine, this is one of the great things (and annoying things) about literature, there is no right or wrong answer. Whatever his true meaning is, it is still a great poem. Each person can get something different out of it.

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