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according to the last line of the poem why should death not be "proud"?one short sleep...

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marisolvasquez1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:12 PM via web

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according to the last line of the poem why should death not be "proud"?

one short sleep past we wakee eternally

and death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM (Answer #1)

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The paradox of Death dying serves as the conclusion to the argument that Death should not be proud because other forces such as poison, war, and sickness--even drugs--take the lives of men fatefully and "better than thy stroke," and Death is their slave. And, above all, man survives Death's arrival by attaining eternal life. 

In a series of paradoxes, John Donne, himself an Anglican minister, attacks the prevailing idea of Death as invincible. The underlying conceit of "Holy Sonnet 10" is the likening of death to a proud but ultimately ineffectual tyrant who thinks that he overthrows man, but only gives man "One short sleep."  With the belief in the afterlife that comes after "one short sleep past," man's soul lives on, waking to eternal life; therefore, Death is defeated:  "Death, thou shalt die."

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