Death Be Not Proud (poem)
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"Death Be Not Proud" is a poem by English metaphysical poet John Donne written around 1609 and first published posthumously in 1633. It is the tenth sonnet in Donne's posthumously published Holy Sonnets.
Donne suffered a major illness that brought him close to death during his eighth year as an Anglican minister. The illness may have been typhoid fever, but in recent years it has been shown that he may have had a relapsing fever in combination with other illnesses.
According to literary scholar and poet John Daniel Thieme, the poem expresses an open defiance against fate and death. Thieme describes Donne's speaker as "bold in his confidence that death ultimately will be defeated by the victory a saved soul experiences in resurrection. After 'one short sleepe past', eternal life snatches victory and power from death."
The last line alludes to 1 Corinthians 15:26: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death".
- John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, ed. by Anthony Raspa (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975), xii–xiv.
- Charles M. Coffin’s ed. Donne’s poetry, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne (New York: The Modern Library, 1952
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- "Death Be Not Proud" in Representative Poetry Online