John Donne: Death, thou shalt die!

19 12 2011

John Donne was an English poet writting in the 1500′s. It is hard to find a more sexually immoral man in the history of English literature (quite an accomplishment!) However, he did experience a heart conversion through the Gospel, after which he became an ordained minister. His sermons can be quite difficult, but nevertheless intensely powerful. He was well aware of the immensity of his own sin, but through the grace of the Gospel he was also keenly aware of the infinite mercy of Christ the savior. Below is a poem he wrote on Christ’s victory over death (1 Cor 15.55; Rev 21.4). Enjoy the poem. I draw special attention to the last line, which is the defiant cry of the Christian at the hour of their own death. By this he shows that man’s greatest fear has no power over him

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne, Divine Sonnet X


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