Paul Hartal


Every Man Remains an Island


You pace with the gaudy crowd,
the pied throngs on urban land,
but you reckon all unbowed
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

John Donne's 'No Man is an Island' and This Poem:

The title of this verse, 'Every Man Remains an Island', seems to contradict Donne's famous 'No Man is an Island'. In his Meditation XVII, the English metaphysical poet and Anglican priest John Donne (1572-1631) wrote:

'All mankind is of one author…No man is an island, entire of itself…any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.'

Now, admittedly, death is a constant companion of life. So, my opus, 'Every Man Remains an Island', does not try to challenge Donne's profound awareness of human mortality. Nor does it try to refute his vision that all mankind is interconnected.

Instead, my poem approaches human existence with a dialectical point of view. Although the narrative voice in it does not necessarily express the poet's own vision, the central message of the verse, as stated in the title, reflects the fact that humans throughout their life experience an intrinsic sense of loneliness and isolation. For, regardless how close an individual can be to another, in the final analysis, man stands alone.

At the same time, however, I also believe in the redeeming power of love. Our salvation comes from love. Life and love are inherently intertwined. Life exists as a result of love, and love exists as a result of life. Yet in spite of being born for love, most of us remain-touch starved and emotionally neglected throughout life.


NOTE on the word TRUELOVE:

Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary define 'truelove' as 1) a sweetheart, a truly loving or loved person; or 2) the herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) .

I find the second denotation particularly interesting as the herb Paris also symbolizes true love. This herb has a whorl of four leaves, suggesting an intricate ornamental 'truelove knot', which is regarded as an emblem of interwoven affections, a relationship of true love.

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