Wednesday, March 21, 2012

John Donne on Hope in Light of Death

When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

John Donne, the brilliant seventeenth century poet lived in an age of brilliance. Donne knew death and its woes through the plagues of his day. He penned a poem that has been rightly treasured. It usually goes by the first line, “Death Be Not Proud” (although it’s also called “Holy Sonnet 10”). Poetry requires time—so read this slowly and meditate on the victory of Jesus Christ in a world of death.

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.
 Lord, we praise You. You have defeated death itself and opened the way to eternal life.

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