What Is a Brief Summary of "Holy Sonnet 10" by John Donne?

In John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 10," the poet expresses hope to those who fear death and the threat it holds on mankind. In this sonnet, he personifies Death and tells it that it has no reason to be proud because, although it is dreaded by many, it does not have any permanent power or hold.

The poet tells Death that even those it thinks it has destroyed have not died for eternity, and it has no power to kill him either. The sonnet compares what happens in death to "rest and sleep." He acknowledges that, although everyone does experience it at some time, death is, in reality, a slave itself to illnesses and accidents. It has no choice or say in whom it takes. Donne ends the sonnet by telling Death in the last two lines that after a brief time of sleep, "we wake eternally, and Death shall be no more." He then pronounces a final death sentence upon Death itself, for Death is sure to be destroyed once and for all.

This sonnet, written in the first decade of the 1600s, was part of a group of 19 sonnets. It is also known by its first few words, "Death be not proud." John Donne was a preacher as well as a poet, and this sonnet expresses his hope in his faith.