An Analysis of ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ By Donte Collins

my mother moved out
of her body   decided it
was no longer worthy
it couldn’t contain her laughter
she couldn’t obey the house
rules of human   her spirit
that young & fresh fever    wanted
to call the night her dance club
wanted to try new clothes
stay out later
my mother now wears the world
dresses herself  with the tall grass
blushes her cheeks with red clay
she laughs & a forest fire awakens
she laughts & every mountain bows
to her sharp thunder    she laughs
&each cicada begins to sing  last
night Saint Paul was cloaked in steam
fog travelled from some distant heat.
no, i think   you’ve got it all wrong
someone must have asked my mother
to dance

This piece titled ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ is written by Donte Collins. In this blog post, I will be analysing the title,  form and structure of this poem, poetic devices used and my understanding of the poem.


The title ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ is understood at the end of the poem where Collins write ‘someone must have asked my mother to dance’. This explains the title because the song in which she was dancing to was death hence the title. However the person or Being who asked her mother to dance is unidentified in this poem leaving the inference that it could be natural or even supernatural.

Form and Structure

This poem is written as a free verse to express the personality of the writer’s mother which is a free spirit. The form and structure could also be a reflection that the writer’s mother is free and liberated through death.

Poetic Devices

No Punctuation: The lack of punctuation in this piece illustrates the freedom and liberation as there is no stopping or pauses. The only punctuation which is evident is the use of and( &),. This shows that there is more to add rather than stop. This therefore aids us to understand that the writers mothers vibrancy will go on.


Within the poem, there is space in each stanza. This space is there to perhaps reflect the overwhelming topic of death and the emotions the writer feels. Therefore , needing space to breathe and continue.


The imagery the writer uses are very powerful yet sad.  For instance the stanza which states that ‘my mother now wears the world dresses herself  with the tall grass blushes her cheeks with red clay’. At first, it is easy to imagine this imagery as a memory of the mother dressing up and putting on makeup. However the underlying tone is death meaning that she is back with nature and slowly degrading into debris.

My Understanding Of The Poem

The theme of this poem is death. The ways in which the writer describes his mother’s death is descriptive. It begins with ‘moving out of her body’ then escalates to ‘wears the world’. The writer’s ability to describe something so solemn in a simple yet descriptive manner is high commendable. Overall, this poem is a bitter sweet poem which celebrates both life and death.

Thank you for reading.


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