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Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)


by John Donne

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10) Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Does the speaker sound like a cocky trash-talker, or is he just trying to talk himself out of being afraid? Could it be both? What is the effect of addressing the poem to something that can’t talk back?
  2. If you have to pick out the one most effective argument in the poem , which one would it be?
  3. Does the comparison between death and sleep make sense outside of a theological context? Is the speaker justified in thinking that death will bring pleasure?
  4. Does the poem seem to have any setting whatsoever? Is there any way to visualize what’s going on?
  5. Do you think it’s truly possible to welcome the experience of death in the way that the poem seems to suggest? Or, is everyone afraid of death, and some people just pretend not to be? Why are soldiers and martyrs more willing to put their lives on the line?

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