Death, be not proud Questions and Answers
by John Donne

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What is the rhyme scheme of the poem "Death, be not proud"?

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John Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud” belongs to a collection of poems he entitled The Divine Meditations, or Holy Sonnets. As such, it is written in iambic pentameter and adheres to the Petrarchan rhyming scheme—at least for the most part. The first of its two stanzas consists of eight lines which employ two rhyming strands, alternating in order, to establish death as a malevolent force within the poem.

The second stanza provides a resolution to the problem that death poses. These lines progress the rhyme scheme in a manner different to the traditional Petrarchan form. While most Petrarchan sonnets use CDCDCD for their second stanza, Donne favors a scheme that returns to the A rhyme in the poem’s concluding couplet. Moreover, the poem’s concluding couplet uses a half rhyme between “eternally” and “die,” which is a further break from Petrarchan convention—perhaps intended to mirror the waning of death’s influence.

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