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Death Be Not Proud, John DONNE (1572 - 1631)
This week we’re marking the American Memorial Day with eleven readings of a John Donne poem. Memorial Day was conceived as a time to remember military men and women who had lost their lives in war. Kings and presidents come and go and some of the reasons that wars have come about are now lost from memory or are obscured in our history texts. A consistent aspect of war is that those who fight them are not those who arrange them. The soldiers and sailors who suffer loss of limb, scarred minds or forfeit their lives mostly come from the lower and middle rungs of our societal ladder. They are our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Once gone, it is the family who notices the empty chair at the family table while society at large knows not their name. Death has captured them and taken them forever from our midst. It has become personal and not a vague philosophical idea. The theme of Donne’s poem is that, though Death is irresistible, it has no cause to be proud. The human spirit and its hope for redemption is indomitable. This was the weekly poetry project for the week of May 27th, 2006. (Summary by Robert Garrison)