Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)
by John Donne
Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10) Courage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
Death, be not proud (line 1)
The poem begins by naming the speaker’s greatest fear, followed immediately by a command, as if Death is one of his servants. This is meant to strike us as gutsy and inspiring. But, keep in mind that the speaker only has his words and thoughts to fight with are.
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. (lines 7-8)
In these lines, "best" might as well mean "bravest." The people who are most likely to "go with" Death soonest are the people who risk their lives, which is the definition of physical courage. But, there’s a twist: the poem seems to say that these brave people, including soldiers and martyrs, know something that the rest of us don’t; namely, that death will bring rest and freedom. Isn’t the point of courage, though, that it involves a risk for the person who does a courageous deed? Where is the risk here?