The Poet challenges death; the Artist is not so sure we have courage for such a challenge without our masks…

 

 

Death, be not proud (Sonnet X of the Holy Sonnets), 1609

John Donne, 1571-1631, English

 

 

 

 

 

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Masks Confronting Death, 1888, oil on canvas. Photo from the net

James Ensor, 1860-1949, Belgian.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

 

 

 

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As above

 

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.

 

 

 

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As Above

 

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.

 

 

 

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As Above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Poet challenges death; the Artist is not so sure we have courage for such a challenge without our masks…

  1. Perhaps of all the poets, for me Donne is the one I most love. And your reading was superlative. Thank you. And for the paired colour.

    1. For you, this poem, particularly, dear Susannah. Because I know of your partiality for this poet.

      Sarah

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