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Poem Analysis (Death Be Not Proud)

1272 words - 6 pages


Poetry Analysis
“Death Be Not Proud” written by John Donne presents an argument against the power of death. Addressing Death as a person, the speaker warns Death against pride in his power. Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” is a poem that protests against the idea of accepting death quietly. It discusses the various ways to approach death in old age and advocates struggling against death until the last breath.
Death is a total poser in John Donne’s poem “Death Be Not Proud”. Donne makes death out to be a good thing because it leads to the new life of Christian eternity. The poet criticizes Death as a slave to other forces: fate, chance, ...view middle of the document...

A standard religious contrast between body and soul was drawn in line 8. The standard for the poem shifted at line 9. Donne becomes more hostile towards Death, calling him names and taunting him as a slave. With the metaphor of the slave, the speaker suggests that Death doesn’t act on his own free will, and instead is controlled or manipulated by other things like "fate, chance, kings, and desperate men”.
Like Death, Fate is often treated as a person in literature. Fate is thought to control everything that happens to people, including when they will die. So, Death doesn’t decide when people will die; he just carries out orders from Fate. "Chance" is kind of the opposite of fate, so it’s sneaky of Donne to put them side-by-side. "Chance" is luck, the idea that things can happen for no particular rhyme or reason.
Society often talk about people who "swell" with pride, and that’s what’s going on here in line 12, when the speaker asks, "Why swell’st thou then?" This is a rhetorical question, designed to make Death realize that he has no reason to be proud. Donne uses the concept of death three ways in line 14. First, is the real physical death. Then there is the personified idea of Death. Finally, he uses death as a metaphor for simple non-existence. The last word die references something that ceases to be there.
This sonnet is about making death seem not so scary. Today’s society should care about the poem because it succeeds in this goal, but quite frankly, we’re still afraid of death after reading it. Donne’s poem is also a great example of how to tell off a bully of any kind. It doesn’t have to be the type of bully that wants to sucker-punch the victim, and then take the victim’s lunch money. It could be a boss who gives a person all the worst jobs to do, or a friend who tries to intimidate someone. Donne will teach how to take them down a notch.

In “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, he has a quite different approach on dealing with death. The speaker of the poem expresses that it is not honorable for a great man to die quietly in old age. He encourages the reader to think that death is something that should be fought rather than mutely accepted. The speaker asserts that old men at the ends of their lives should resist death as strongly as they can. At the end of the poem, it is discovered that the speaker has a personal stake in this issue: his...

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