Here is the summary of the poem "Death Be Not Proud" by Jon Donne (Source - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44107/holy-sonnets-death-be-not-proud)-

“Death Be Not Proud” presents an argument against the power of death. Addressing Death as a person, the speaker warns Death against pride in his power. Such power is merely an illusion, and the end Death thinks it brings to men and women is in fact a rest from world-weariness for its alleged “victims.” The poet criticizes Death as a slave to other forces: fate, chance, kings, and desperate men. Death is not in control, for a variety of other powers exercise their volition in taking lives. Even in the rest it brings, Death is inferior to drugs. Finally, the speaker predicts the end of Death itself, stating “Death, thou shalt die.”

Here are the two areas of exploration (Source - https://www.sevanoland.com/areas-of-exploration.html)-

  1. Readers, writers, and texts -

This area introduces students to the nature of language and literature and its study. The investigation undertaken involves close attention to the details of texts in a variety of types and literary forms so that students learn about the choices made by creators and the ways in which meaning is communicated through words, image, and sound. Study in this area should be structured to allow students to become more confident in their ability to recognize key textual and rhetorical features and how they create or affect meaning. Non-literary texts and literary works can be chosen that lend themselves to close reading and give students a sense of stylistic, rhetorical and literary elements across a variety of text types and literary forms.

  1. Time and Space

This area of exploration focuses on the idea that language is a social capacity and as such is intertwined with community, culture and history. It explores the variety of cultural contexts in which texts are produced and read across time and space as well as the ways texts themselves reflect or refract the world at large. Students will examine how cultural conditions can affect language and how these conditions are a product of language. Students will also consider the ways culture and identity influence reception.

So my question is - "How can I relate the two areas of exploration to the poem "Death Be Not Proud"?"

  • It would be better to have a link to the poem itself than a summary. – Rand al'Thor Aug 13 '19 at 8:36
  • @Randal'Thor - I have edited my question according to your suggestion. Thanks! Looking forward to an answer. – Justin Aug 13 '19 at 12:21
  • The "areas of exploration" you quoted are from the syllabus of the "Language A: Language and Literature" diploma from the International Baccalaureate Organization. Is this a course you are taking? – Gareth Rees Aug 13 '19 at 14:38
  • @GarethRees - Yes – Justin Aug 13 '19 at 16:28
  • Is this an assignment you have been given (i.e. to relate "Death be not proud" to the "areas of exploration")? Or is it something you are pursuing on your own initiative? – Gareth Rees Aug 13 '19 at 16:33

The “areas of exploration” quoted in the question come from the syllabus of the Language A: Language and Literature diploma from the International Baccalaureate Organization. A syllabus is not primarily addressed to the student, but rather to the instructor. You can see this from the phrasing: when the syllabus says, “study should be structured”, it is the instructor who is expected to structure the study; when it says, “works can be chosen” it is the instructor who is expected to choose the works.

The intermediate step between the syllabus and the student is lesson planning. An instructor is expected to read the syllabus and develop a program of lessons, exercises and assessments for their students that will meet the learning goals described in the syllabus.

So in order to relate ‘Death be not proud’ to the syllabus, you first have to put yourself in the role of the instructor and plan some lessons and exercises on the poem. For example, you might set yourself some essay questions, like these:

  1. What rhetorical and poetic devices does Donne use in the poem? How do they contribute to its meaning?

    (This contributes to the learning goal of recognizing “key textual and rhetorical features and how they create or affect meaning”.)

  2. Donne belonged to the school of “Metaphysical” poets. To what extent is this poem typical of that school?

    (This contributes to the learning goal of knowing that language is “intertwined with community, culture and history”.)

  3. Compare the view of death in this poem with that of Holy Sonnets VI. “This is my play’s last scene” and VII. “At the round earth’s imagined corners”.

    (This contributes to the goal of learning about “choices made by creators”.)

But what if you are not yet familiar with Donne and his poetry? Before you can plan your lessons, you need to know enough about the subject to be able to teach it!

So you might instead have to begin by reading around the subject. You might try reading:

  • The rest of Donne’s Holy Sonnets;
  • A biography of Donne (Robert Cecil Bald’s Donne: A Life is available for loan at the Internet Archive);
  • Other Metaphysical poems, for example Andrew Marvell’s ‘On a drop of dew’ or Henry Vaughan’s ‘They are all gone into the world of light’;
  • A general book on the study of poetry, for example Terry Eagleton’s How to Read a Poem, or Thomas Foster’s How to Read Poetry Like a Professor.

At some point in this kind of reading programme you’ll realise you know enough to be able to plan some lessons.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer. I really appreciate it. +1 – Justin Aug 13 '19 at 19:15

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