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Death, Be Not Proud

             John Donne's Death, be not proud is a particularly interesting poem that expresses the act of dying as something natural and pleasant abandoning the reputation it has held for being frightening or powerful. The speaker notes that those whom Death thinks it kills do not truly die and that it will definitely not kill him. Donne goes on the explain that both rest and sleep are like little copies of Death, and because they are pleasurable, therefore Death must be even more so. The best people enjoy the deliverance of their souls and desertion of their bones by accepting death with readiness. Drugs and potions can make people sleep as well, or better than Death, so it should not be so proud. It is merely a short sleep, after which the dead awake into eternal life, where Death doesn't even exist. Death itself will die.
             The author wants those who read Death, be not proud to question Death and how people look at it. Donne says that if the afterlife is eternal, then upon the moment a person dies, it is really Death that dies, for that person will never again be subject to Death. The idea that Death can die is startling and hard to imagine, but it makes sense in light of Donne's reasoning. His explanations of Death being like sleep, Death being inferior to drugs, and Death as a small step towards infinite being, are all congruent with the idea that Death is not a bad thing. The author hopes that readers will see how insignificant Death is compared to the big picture of what life offers. This religious theme opens the mind to the fact that it isn't worth letting a fear of dying take away from the gift of life, for living will extend far beyond Death.
             Donne successfully used various literary conventions to portray a specific image of Death in this poem. One way he did this was through the use of personification. He referred to Death as being a slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, living in a gutter with poison and sickness.

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