Trevor Maynard

(11th September 1963 / Rochford, Essex)

At John Donne's House


John Donne once lived here
Or so it says on the blue plaque
Erected to commemorate
On the house opposite, the other side
Of the Navigation

We are near Newark Priory, whose history
I do not know, but I would surmise
The monks who once lived here
Do not live here now

Donne, famously revealed that no man
Is an island; we are not alone, though I
Think he was postulating God, not aliens

True or not, man may not be alone but
Man certainly wanted to be alone sometimes
Away
Away from his own ubiquity, his own company

We mass together; churching, sporting, theatering,
Chattering, wailing, shooting guns and pictures
Boy, do we like to photograph each other!

I wait; for the walkers to turn the bend
Taking their dogs; for the canoeists and the cyclists;
For the canal boats; for all of them to go; waiting

Two hours so far, at Donne’s “John Donne lived here” sign
Waiting
For the duck feeders to move on, for the distant traffic
To subside; two hours and then

Peace? No, a light aircraft, man in the clouds
Islands of water staining a cloudless sky, Man
Held there, only by noise and sheer bloody-mindedness
We are a stubborn bunch, Mankind

Alone, not quite an island, almost free
The Brent Geese jump in the water and the thrush
And swallows sing; the grass falls silent
Poetry as a transient idea of humanity floating by

Dogs bark again, ramblers discuss the weather again
A lorry reverses, another aeroplane, high, a jet
Leaves a whispering trail, no man is an island
No man is God; Donne’s ghost walks on



(The first part of the six part piece, Donne Roamin')

Submitted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, October 08, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

John Donne is an English metaphysical poet; on the Wey Navigation, a blue plaque marks the brick summerhouse of Pyrford Place where he once lived. I wrote this series of six poems sitting opposite where Donne once mused on life. I often 'Walk the Wey', the canals are mostly only for pleasure now, and it feels like a reclamation of Nature - Man may have intended them as industrial tools, but now the ways for Man to become at one with Nature. I trust John Donne would approve. The poem first appears on LinkedIn, in the Poetry Review and Discuss Group, and is now in my collection, along with the other five parts, in KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON (2012)

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

John Donne,1624, Meditations XVII

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