It had to happen. April is far too long, and the great Metaphysical poets are far too noteworthy to ignore. (It’s hard work bringing you great poetry, okay?)
John Donne, a long-time personal favorite known for his Holy Sonnets, is one of those poets that you sort of have to be in the mood for — at times cerebral, at others sensual, at still others, inaccessible (for me at least). At his best, or when I love him most, his words examine eternal things, pointing a ray of blinding Light on all our earthly wanderings. On this Easter weekend, I thought his “Death Be Not Proud” a suitable offering:
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.
Take heart! Death has been overcome.