Death, be not proud Questions and Answers
by John Donne

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What is this poem about? and what kind of irony is this poem? What is the symbolism in this poem? Analysis and give examples to better help understand

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Death Be Not Proud" is number VI of John Donne's Holy Sonnets.  The Holy Sonnets are not always specifically about God, but they all address eternal themes, with sometimes implied references to God or spiritual things.  "Death Be Not Proud" is one of those.  First of all the poet uses the device of apostrophe, in which he addresses something inanimate as if it were a human being (such as Byron's "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean").  Donne's first line establishes this "Death be no proud, though some have called thee".  By making a concept or a state such as death into something that can be spoken to, even figuratively, Donne effectively brings death down to a level where it is less universal and more personal.  This takes away some of death's power within the context of the poem.  He speaks of death having much less power than most people think.  "Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so".  The poet implies that death should not be feared, for "nor yet canst thou kill me."  Since the poet is a believer in God, and he believes in eternal life, the state of death has no power over him.  This is a neat overturning of death's power, and places the speaker outside of what is considered the normal fate of humanity.   In the next lines the poet further disempowers death by likening it to sleep.  He emphasizes how sleep brings rest and pleasure to humanity, so therefore death cannot be that frightening.  Since death is more permanent than sleep, he says "Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow," (line 6). 

The poet then turns to how the "best men" go willingly to death, so why should not other more common people...

(The entire section contains 576 words.)

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