Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sonorous Sunday

I like poetry.  It gives me great pleasure to read and perform it.  My taste is fairly eclectic although probably a little old fashioned.  I don't get to enjoy it as often as I would like to nowadays, so I'm going to try and look out something I like to post each Sunday.

I went to the funeral of my Great-Uncle this week, a man who, when he found out that I liked poetry, used to bring another poetry book with him each time he came to visit.  I think he chose at random from secondhand book shops so they're an interesting mixture, but all enjoyed.  This week's poem is for him.

Death Be Not Proud - John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and terrible, 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 sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soules 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 then thy touch; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Just in case you care - this is one of the "Holy Sonnets" and is known as "Terrible Sonnet" because it is kind of a hybrid Petrarchan / Shakespearian Sonnet: it follows the the Shakespearian model of three quatrains and a couplet, but the rhyme scheme within the quatrains is Petrarchan.  There are a number of disruptions to the usual sonnet iambic pentameter  too, with several inversions or changes in emphasis.  

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