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A Poem for Easter


Easter, while full of excitement and life, is also a time that we see Jesus' once and for all defeat of death and sin through his own death. One of the great ironies of the Christian faith is that death is defeated by death. This great contradiction, sobering though it is, brings us hope that death is not the final word. John Donne, a 16th century pastor and poet, captures this beautifully in his Holy Sonnet below. Donne is speaking to death, and while he does not mention Jesus by name, his fingerprints can be seen throughout this sonnet. (This short poem is best read aloud.)

Holy Sonnet: Death, be not proud
by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, 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 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.