Comparing Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud” Essay, Research Paper
John Donne s Death, Be Not Proud, and Marianne Moore s Poetry, although bothplaced in the poetry section of Angles of Vision, they are very different forms of thegenre, with Donne s deserving to be placed on a pedestal for all to see, while Moore sshould be buried six feet under without a headstone, but I would settle for its placementin a book of essays. Death, Be Not Proud, is written with a very macabre tone, which is veryappropriate, as the poem depicts a man staring Death in the face and talking to him. Thespeaker, which could in fact be Donne, although there is no proof of that, uses all that hecan muster to convince all that Death is not to be feared or dreaded, but is in fact,nothing, because people through death find eternal life, which he states in line thirteen,saying One short sleep past, we wake eternally. Poetry has the setting of someone talking to a group rather informally. Thetone is serious, yet comical as Moore s speaker, who is most likely Moore herself, tellsher audience that she dislikes poetry, but because many poems are written by half-poets. She goes on to say if you demand…the raw material of poetry…which ison the other hand genuine, you are interested in poetry. In Moore s final version of Poetry, she ends the poem after just three lines, which is might be more appropriate. Slocum 2She only reiterates her first point in the next twenty-one lines, only running the readeraround in circles. Although both authors care about the causes in which they wroteabout, more grandiose subjects like the death of Death have been more stereotypicallyassociated with poetry than the dislike and contempt of poetry. Poetry is written in prose and uses no set method of rhyme and meter, while Death, Be Not Proud is a sonnet; it consists of three quatrains and a couplet, usesiambic pentameter, and has a set rhyme scheme of abba abba cddc ee. In Death, Be Not Proud, the idea of Death taking on human qualities is anexcellent example of personification, for Death is not a person, and therefore, does nothave pride, as the title and first line suggest and pleasure, which is mentioned in line six.
The image of Death standing in front of you is also very effective. By use ofpersonification, one can see themselves talking to Death like the speaker in the poem. Another from of creative language Donne uses is the paradox. The speaker, as heis getting more incensed at Death for trying to take him home, he, in the last two lines,says we wake eternally, and death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. Death cannot die, it is illogical and impossible, but yet beautiful in an strange way. Having Deathdie is something that no one would have ordinarily thought about, but when they readabout it, they suddenly go hmmm…. Donne, along with the paradox, uses irony in linenine, saying that Death is a slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, when infact, Death is considered to be the ruler over all four groups.Slocum 3 Donne use of structure and order in the sestet of lines nine through fourteen isexcellent, using the grandest comparison first, Thou are slave to fate, chance, kings, anddesperate men, then going downward in importance until finally saying in the final line, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. Both poets use comparisons in their poems, but Donne s comparisons are moredirect and can be more easily seen by the reader. Moore compares in line fourteen theimmovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels the flea. Donne, on the otherhand, compares Death to rest and sleep in line six and Death s powers to poppy andcharms in line eleven. Although thinking of a critic twitching his face like a horseconjures up an interesting image, Donne s comparisons with Death can link Death tothings that are easily thought of in the human mind. From a literary standpoint, Moore scomparisons in her poem are not in the same league as Donne s. John Donne s Death, Be Not Proud, or Holy Sonnet X, was one of the greatestworks written by one of the greatest poets of the seventeenth and early eighteenthcenturies, while Marianne Moore s Poetry, written by one of the many contemporaryAmerican poets of the twentieth century, is a work that is structurally sound, but whoseideas belong in a different part of an English anthology.