Famous John Donne Quotes with Analysis
Quote: "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 Holy Sonnet X).
Literary Device: Donne uses a form of personification known as apostrophe, the act of addressing an inanimate object, an idea, or an individual not present. In this case, death is the personified hearer.
Analysis: Death comes to all, but it has no reason to boast, according to Donne's Holy Sonnet X. Donne, of course, refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in Christian theology, a resurrection that makes death temporary.
Quote: "Go and catch a falling star, / Get with child a mandrake root, / Tell me, where all past years are, / Or who cleft the Devil's foot, / Teach me to hear mermaids singing." (From Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star)
Literary Devices: Donne uses hyperbole, a deliberate exaggeration, allusion, a reference to something that is well known and metaphor, the comparison of two seemingly unlike things.
Analysis: Donne comments on the impossibility of finding a virtuous, beautiful woman by comparing the task to doing notoriously impossible things.
Quote: "As states subsist in part by keeping their weaknesses from being known, so is it the quiet of families to have their chancery and their parliament within doors, and to compose and determine all emergent differences there."
Literary Device: Donne compares government to families using a simile.
Analysis: Donne comments on the wisdom of keeping family problems private by comparing them to the conventional wisdom of covering state weaknesses.