Friday, April 25, 2008

Sonnet Week nearly Donne

Following Shakespeare both here and in life, here's a selection from John Donne (1572-1631). This is a familiar one, as are so many of his lines to our modern ears -- lines such as:

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

No man is an island.

(although both of these lines come from his sermons rather than his poetry)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


  1. I love John Donne! All those crazy conceits and funny poems like "The Flea"!

  2. Wow, are you taking me back. I studied John Donne in high school Literature class; I remember being fascinated by the words even as I struggled to understand them (and unravel the construction of the poems- why do teachers think that will make you appreciate them? it doesn't)

  3. Dorothy - I wanted to post "The Flea" because I like it so much; but had to stick to my sonnet theme!

    Jeane - tell me about it. I studied Donne in first yr. university and am amazed I still enjoy him so much.


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