Analysis of John Donne's 'Death Be Not Proud'

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Death Be Not Proud John Donne was a famous poet during the Renaissance era. This poem encompasses an eternal struggle that every single human alive has had to deal with. The way in which we feel about death varies from person to person, but Donne's poem takes the position of superiority in death. This position is particularly common in religious people because they feel that death is not the end of a person, merely the precursor to an eternal life. In the first 3 lines John Donne expresses his position that death is not as powerful as he is made out to be: “though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;” He further goes on to taunt death “nor yet canst thou kill me”. Donne continues his assault on death later on his poem saying, “Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men”. With this line, Donne is implying that death is not free to claim who he kills. Fate, dictated by god, is the one who allows death to claim his victims. Chance also plays a part in everyday life when random occurrences claim lives of people. Kings also have the power to send people to their death. Finally he mentions desperate men. These are men with nothing else to lose, and most likely will kill themselves or other people. This position of arrogance towards death was popular during the Renaissance. However, the fact of the matter was that during the Renaissance the average life span was about 39.5 years. When John Donne wrote this poem, he was already 38 years old. Perhaps this poem was an anchor for Donne due to the fact that he was quickly approaching the age when the average person died. When a life is claimed by death, they are said to be in eternal rest. Donne brings light to this situation saying that rest is peaceful and that there are other things that death is not in control of that can also bring humans rest. “And poppy, or
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