The Meaning of the Apostrophe in Death Be Not Proud

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Sonnet X, commonly known by its opening words "Death Be Not Proud," is a fourteen-line poem by the English poet John Donne. Donne is a prominent member of the metaphysical poets group of seventeenth-century English literature. To read the full poem, click here. Afterward, click "Read More" to read the poem's complete meaning. This article will also cover the meaning of the apostrophe, a poetic device used to create emphasis.


One of the most prevalent myths about death is its personification. Many people think of Death as a Grim Reaper who causes death by collecting our soul. However, death is not a personification of evil. It is merely a concept with many interpretations. Death is often personified to cause fear, and it is also a metaphor for life and the enduring value of life. Here are some popular myths about death.

Historically, Death has been portrayed as a dark figure in Danse Macabre paintings by Bernt Notke, who first personified it in 1460. Ingmar Bergman personified Death in The Seventh Seal (1957), another example of a personification of death. However, the process of personification is not necessarily easy. It involves the mental transformation of inanimate objects or ideas into autonomous figures. Death personifications are considered culturally bound channels.

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A major theme in Death Be Not Proud is irony, the use of an underlying intention to express something contrary to its implied meaning. Verbal irony, such as sarcasm, is an example of this theme. Death's power over us is diminished by comparisons to pleasure. Rather than embracing his own mortality, the speaker merely makes comparisons to others. He uses these comparisons to defy Death's power.

In "Death, be not proud," the speaker personifies Death, akin to a high school senior who tells Death not to be arrogant. He compares Death's appearance to the state of peaceful sleep, which is the opposite of the feared state of mortality. This is an interesting way to think about the irony inherent in this poem. But how does death's appearance affect the speaker's feelings?

Poetic devices

Poetic devices in Death Be Not Proub emphasize Death's importance. First, the speaker personifies Death. He paints Death as a human being with feelings, which are related to fate, chance, and kings. It is also linked to war, sickness, and poison. Secondly, death is the sole product of earth, and it depends on these things for its existence. The speaker's arguments are based on this idea.

Poetic devices in Death Be Not Prouad include personification, irony, and personification. In the opening lines, the speaker compares Death to a proud man. In the ninth line, Death is compared to a slave to fate, and the last line uses a nonexistent object. Metonymy refers to the use of one object to describe another closely related thing. Donne uses the words "poppy" and "charm" to describe death and sleep. These devices are common literary devices in Donne's work, and can be considered in the context of a mystery.

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Meaning of apostrophe

The poem "Death, be not proud" is a sonnet, close to the Petrarchan form. Its short, compressed form lends itself to arguments. The first line, "Death, be not proud," refers to the death of a human being. The second line, "Death, be not proud," echoes the preceding line but offers a new perspective.

In the famous poem "Captain Corelli's Dream," a speaker speaks directly to a dead captain. This metaphorically represents the death of President Abraham Lincoln, and the speaker's voice makes the absence of the great leader palpable. Mary Shelley also uses the apostrophe in her novel "Frankenstein": the speaker addresses the stars and clouds, rather than the human audience.

The apostrophe in "Death, be not proud" is a variant of the Petrarchan sonnet. It follows a simple rhyme scheme, abbaabcddcee. While Donne used an apostrophe in his opening line, the poem is still a Petrarchan sonnet. Therefore, it's not surprising that the poem is set in a Petrarchan style.

June 24, 2022




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