Holy Sonnet X: Death, Be Not Proud

Among the nineteen different Holy Sonnet poems by John Donne, Holy Sonnet X is also known to be titled “Death, be not proud”. Shortly after poet John Donne passed in 1631, Holy Sonnet X started to be known under this title. Throughout this poem, the speaker treats death as he is a person calling it a slave, making it known that only the good die young, and that people do not really die when they meet death.

The speaker treats death as it is a person telling death to not be so proud, because he is not as powerful or scary as he is put out to be. The speaker also claims that “only the good die young,” because people who know that death brings pleasure, not pain are the best types of people. Death is also referred to as a slave, accusing death of hanging out with “poison, war, and sickness” (Donne, l. 10).

The manner in which the speaker converses with death uncovers that he isn’t scared about death, and thinks that death should be pleased of himself. The certain tone of death, and the face to face encounter of death gives an amusing feeling of comfort by recommending that death isn’t to be dreaded by any stretch of the imagination, yet that at last, death will be overwhelmed by something significantly better.

In the first lines of the poem, the speaker instantly makes a personified variant of death by talking specifically to him. “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so” (Donnet ll. 1-2). He portrays passing as arrogant, and one who should be humbled out. The speaker takes on the position of the person who must humble this being. He reveals to him that he should not to be so glad, despite the fact that for ages individuals have dreaded passing and called him “mighty and dreadful”. The speaker who has total authority on the situation essentially states, “thou art not so”. This writer utilizes the tactic of an apostrophe to fully bring across his point.

The speaker also blames death for having deceptions of grandeur. “For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow / Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me” (Donne, ll. 3-4). He says that while death believes that it has the ability to execute, he really does not. The speaker initially lowers death by letting him know he does not have this capability by any stretch of imagination. At that point, to additionally mortify death, the speaker calls him ‘Poor Death’. It almost seems like the speaker is mocking death for him thinking he had power over life or death. “From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow” (Donne, ll. 5-6). The speaker compares death to rest and sleep making it sound less extreme even describing it as a pleasure. “And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery” (Donne, ll.7-8). The speaker explains that the best men appear to encounter death sooner than others who are not as great. The way death is described as ‘rest of their bones’ and ‘soul’s delivery’ influences people to think death is someone to welcome and be at peace with.

“One short sleep past, we wake eternally / And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die” (Donne, ll. 13-14). In the final lines of the poem, the speaker uncovers why he has been taunting death. Despite the fact that passing is genuine, and that individuals who encounter death don’t return to earth, the speaker explains that death is powerless and effortlessly survived. The speaker claims that death is just ‘one short rest’ and that the individuals will ‘wake eternally’. At that point, he asserts that ‘death shall be no more’. At long last, he tells death, ‘thou shalt die’. The speaker has not just revealed to death that he has no genuine control over anybody, but also that he will encounter the end himself when all wake in endlessness and passing will be no more.

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Holy Sonnet X: Death, Be Not Proud. (2021, Jul 05). Retrieved October 3, 2023 , from

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