arcana imperii :: the book of j


death be not proud

i first heard the following sonnet, one of the most beautiful, evocative and meaningful in english literature, watching the extraordinary film version of the play W;t a few years ago. this metaphysical poetry reveals a belief in life after death which i do not share in the conventional sense. if one lives after death it's because someone simply remembers.

and so i agree with the interpretation that the "comma" in «death, thouh shalt die» is indeed a mere pause between passing and life everafter. but not in a heaven amidst clouds and harp-playing angels, but in the memory of those who've known me.

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

i must review the transcription of this sonnet for i don't know if it follows Dame Helen Garner's (who referred to an original manuscript dated 1610) nor do i wish to give in to «hysterical punctuation»... one might as well quote shakespeare instead, right?