In the poem "Holy Sonnet 10," by John Donne, who is the speaker and what is the setting?Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ; For those, whom...

In the poem "Holy Sonnet 10," by John Donne, who is the speaker and what is the setting?

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture[s] be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke ;  why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ;  Death, thou shalt die.

thanks once again!!

Expert Answers
jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 10," the speaker is not clearly identified.  It would be safe to assume that the speaker is John Donne himself, although the thoughts in the poem could have been expressed by any mortal human being who wanted to convince himself that death is not so terrible.

The speaker, whoever it might be, addresses "Death" as if it were a person to whom one can speak. 

The poem does not have any particular setting of place or time.  Perhaps the poet purposely left out any particular setting in order to emphasize the universal relevance of the poem's topic--everyone worries a bit about death.

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