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Death be not Proud: ISC Class 12 English workbook solutions

Death be not Proud poem

Get notes, questions, answers, notes, workbook solutions, summary, MCQs, PDF of the poem “Death be not Proud” by John Donne which is a part of ISC Class 12 English syllabus (Rhapsody).

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Textual questions and answers

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

1. Who have called death ‘mighty’ and ‘dreadful’?

Answer: Some people

2. In what tone does the poet address death?

Answer: Assertive and accusative

3. Who die quite young according to the poet?

Answer: Excellent men

4. Which of these statements is Not true?

Answer: Death leaves us only in grief

5. Which of these is NOT compared to death in the poem?

Answer: Dream

6. What does the poet want to convey?

Answer: That our souls are eternal and death cannot touch them

7. Death is welcome according to the poem as it:

Answer: Gives us rest and pleasure

8. Which figure of speech is used in the line: “And death shall be no more; death thou shalt die.”?

Answer: Paradox

9. The form of the poem is basically:

Answer: Petrarchan sonnet

10. Which rhyme scheme is followed in the first twelve lines of the poem?

Answer: abba​

Logic Based Questions

1. The poet seems to mock death because

Answer: The poet’s mockery of death stems from the concept that death is not as powerful or dreadful as it is often perceived. Instead, the poet views death as weak and incapable of truly killing the human soul, thereby diminishing its feared status.

2. Death should not feel proud because

Answer: Death should not feel proud because it is not the mighty and dreadful force it is often thought to be. The poet argues that death does not actually kill but merely leads to a peaceful rest, thus negating any reason for death to take pride in its perceived power.

3. Death cannot touch our souls because

Answer: Death cannot touch our souls because, according to the poet, the human soul is eternal and beyond the reach of death. While death can claim the physical body, it has no power over the soul, which continues to exist eternally.

4. Death cannot act independently because

Answer: Death cannot act independently because it is depicted as a slave to external forces such as fate, chance, kings, and criminals. These agents determine when and how death occurs, thus rendering death incapable of independent action.

5. The poet calls death ‘poor’ because

Answer: The poet refers to death as ‘poor’ to highlight its lack of true power and independence. This characterization serves to belittle death, presenting it as an entity that is not as formidable or autonomous as it is commonly believed to be.

6. Fate chance kings and criminals are quite powerful as

Answer: Fate, chance, kings, and criminals are considered powerful because they dictate the occurrence of death. Unlike death, which is portrayed as a powerless entity, these forces wield the actual power to end life, thereby holding true dominion over mortality.

7. Death is like a short sleep because

Answer: Death is likened to a short sleep because it is seen as a temporary state that leads to eternal awakening. This metaphor suggests that death is not a permanent end but a transitional phase before the soul’s eternal existence.

8. The poet says death will die because

Answer: The poet claims that death will die to convey the idea of eternal life after physical death. This paradoxical statement emphasizes that in the afterlife, death itself becomes obsolete, thus losing its power and existence.

9. Our best men die young because

Answer: The poet suggests that the best men die young as they are deserving of rest and peace, which they often lack in life due to their virtues and hard work. Death, in this view, is a release into a deserved state of tranquility and comfort.

10. The poet presents life after death as something desirable because

Answer: Life after death is portrayed as desirable because it represents eternal existence where the soul is free from the limitations of the physical world. This view aligns with Christian theology, which the poet uses to argue for the soul’s immortality and the insignificance of physical death.

Short answer questions

(i) Why does the poet ask death not to feel proud?

Answer: The poet asks Death not to feel proud because it is not as mighty or dreadful as it is commonly perceived. Death is depicted as weak and helpless, unable to kill the human soul which is deathless. The poem endorses Christian theology, emphasising the eternity of the soul and the limited power of Death. Death’s perceived might is contrasted with God’s true power, leading to the paradoxical conclusion that it is Death that will eventually perish​​.

(ii) What makes the poet compare death to rest and sleep?

Answer: The poet compares Death to rest and sleep, suggesting that Death is just a short form of sleep, bringing only pleasure. This comparison is made to emphasise the Christian belief in the eternity of the soul. According to this view, physical death is of no true value, as the soul remains deathless, and death merely brings a peaceful rest, similar to sleep​​.

(iii) Why does the poet think that death cannot act independently?

Answer: The poet believes that Death cannot act independently because it relies on external agents or circumstances to function. Death is depicted as a slave to chance, fate, kings, and desperate men, and needs to use means like poison, war, or sickness to bring about its end. This portrayal challenges the common perception of Death as a powerful and independent force​​.

(iv) ‘Death thou shalt die’. Explain.

Answer: The phrase ‘Death thou shalt die’ is a paradox that conveys the idea of Death’s ultimate demise. The poet asserts that after the physical death, humans wake eternally in another world where Death no longer exists. This perspective aligns with Christian theology, which believes in eternal life after death, thereby rendering Death itself mortal and transient​​.

(v) In what way can we call ‘Death be not Proud’ a religious poem?

Answer: ‘Death be not Proud’ can be considered a religious poem because it reiterates the age-old belief in the immortality of the soul and the concept of eternal life after death, which are central tenets of Christian theology. The poem challenges the power of Death by treating it as a proud being, ultimately portraying it as powerless and dependent on external agents. The religious aspect is emphasised through the assertion that the soul’s eternity overshadows the temporary nature of physical death​

Long answer questions

(i) How does the poet try to prove that death is not something to be afraid of?

Answer: The poet tries to prove that death is not something to be afraid of by portraying it as a peaceful rest and sleep, which brings pleasure and comfort. He argues that death does not truly kill; it merely frees the soul from the body, allowing it to rest eternally. The poet challenges the notion of Death being dreadful by asserting that it is a slave to external forces like fate, kings, and desperate men, and uses lowly agents like poison, war, and sickness to function. This perspective diminishes the fear associated with Death, suggesting it should be welcomed as a friend rather than feared as an agent of terror​​.

(ii) What leads the poet to conclude: ‘And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die.’?

Answer: The poet concludes ‘And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die.’ based on the Christian belief in eternal life after death. The paradoxical statement is rooted in the idea that after a short sleep (death), humans wake eternally in another world where Death does not exist. This concept portrays Death as a temporary state, suggesting that it will ultimately cease to exist when we awaken to eternal life. This reflects the Christian theology of the immortality of the soul and the transient nature of physical death​​.

(iii) Discuss ‘Death be not Proud’ as a sonnet.

Answer: ‘Death be not Proud’ is a sonnet, a poetic form consisting of fourteen lines. It follows the structure of a Shakespearean sonnet, which includes four quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme is ABBA for each quatrain, followed by an AA rhyme scheme for the couplet. The poem develops its central idea across the three quatrains with convincing arguments, culminating in a forceful and paradoxical conclusion in the couplet. This structure allows for a concise yet powerful exploration of the theme, characteristic of Donne’s metaphysical poetry​​.

(iv) In both approach and style ‘Death be not Proud’ is an unconventional poem. Discuss with close reference to the text.

Answer: ‘Death be not Proud’ is unconventional in both approach and style. The poem challenges conventional perceptions of Death, portraying it not as a mighty and dreadful force, but as a weak and dependent entity. The poet uses personification to address Death directly, diminishing its power and presenting it as a mere agent of rest and peace. This approach is unconventional as it contradicts the typical portrayal of Death as a fearsome entity. The style of the poem, being a Shakespearean sonnet with its distinct structure and rhyme scheme, further underscores its unconventional nature by using a traditional form to convey a radical idea​​.

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1 thought on “Death be not Proud by John Donne”

  1. Death itself is slave of poppy, accident, cancer, poison , deceases like the, sugar, heart failure, . Death is great sleep, rest the physical of human body .the death is slave .

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