Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud

Original Text: 
John Donne, Poems, by J. D. With elegies on the authors death (M. F. for J. Marriot, 1633). MICF no. 556 ROBA. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2245 A2 1633A. STC 7045.
2Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
3For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
4Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
5From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
6Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
7And soonest our best men with thee do go,
8Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
9Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
10And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
11And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
12And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
13One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
14And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


1] The problem of the order and date of the nineteen poems called the "Holy Sonnets'' is very complicated. They have usually been numbered in sequence, but the traditional order has been convincingly questioned by Dame Helen Gardner in her edition of Donne's Divine Poems and is here not indicated. The first two in this selection were first published in 1635, the next five in 1633, the final two, entirely unconnected, not until 1894 and 1899 respectively. Most of the sonnets were probably written about 1609, but "Since she whom I lov'd" was written after the death of Donne's wife in 1617, and "Show me dear Christ" perhaps even later. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.192.