Next week will be the sixth anniversary of our loss here at school of a beautiful, popular, fit, twenty-five year old teacher. She went to bed one night and didn't wake up the next morning. We were stunned, all of us. That week I read this poem with my students. My grandmother had recently died, and my brother-in-law had sent me the poem, which I had read before, but which was fresh in my mind and so appropriate for the occasion. Since I thought Donne might be a bit much for my middle schoolers, I wrote my own paraphrase, too.
Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)
by John Donne
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.
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.
don't think you're all that, even though some have said you're mighty
and dreadful - you aren't. You think you're defeating those who die, but
that's not the way it is, and you can't kill me, either. We get
pleasure from rest and sleep, which are just imitations of you - won't
we get even more pleasure when we die? As soon as good people die, they
get rest for their bodies and freedom for their souls. You, Death, are a
slave to many things - fate, chance, rulers, criminals. You hang out
with poison, war, and sickness. If we want to sleep, we can always take
Tylenol PM and get a better rest than you can give us, so what do you
have to be proud about? After a short sleep, we'll wake to eternal life,
and you, Death, won't even exist any more. Death: you're going to die!
This post is pretty similar to the last time I shared this poem
, and at that link you can find links to the original event, including my musings about middle school and mourning.
is today's roundup.