Back in Donne’s day, the smartest, funniest, hippest writers – The Metaphysical Poets – are the ones who can talk about complex religious topics while letting fly with jokes, puns, and one-liners. But, whatever happens to simple religious devotion – saying "I believe" and leaving it at that? Clearly, Donne feels that something a bit more sophisticated is necessary. The poem is more concerned with spinning out clever and complicated arguments than with reciting prayers or religious scripture. Does this take away from the religious message of the work? Or, does it make that message resonate even more?
Despite its inclusion as one of Donne’s "Holy Sonnets," "Death, be not proud" is not a true religious poem until the final two lines.