John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

No Man Is An Island


No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
........................
........................
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

These famous words by John Donne were not originally written as a poem - the passage is taken from the 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and is prose. The words of the original passage are as follows:

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

'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....'

Comments about this poem (No Man Is An Island by John Donne )

  • Rookie - 218 Points Manonton Dalan (2/21/2012 4:05:00 AM)

    i trying to be an island
    but my life is connecting
    me to the mainlandmd (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,822 Points Smoky Hoss (2/21/2011 7:33:00 PM)

    What would have diminished Donne more, the death of Hitler or the death of the millions in Europe who died due to his leadership? (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,479 Points Howard 'the motivational poet' Simon (2/21/2011 6:02:00 PM)

    As humans we are social beigns; we need relationships in order to survive. Though all nations aspire to be independent, the cry of the human heart is for interdependence. We need each other! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Herman Chiu (2/21/2010 9:25:00 PM)

    And let mankind's civilizations never forget: Faith and Unity. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Edmund Wong (2/21/2010 8:22:00 PM)

    I don't think Craddock is comparing Donne with Hitler. He is merely saying not all men are equal: some of them are so evil and injurious to the rest that they should not be part of humanity. If we define 'man' to be someone who deserves to be part of humanity in which every man, connected to one another, promotes the welfare of mankind as a whole, then Hitler and his likes can hardly NOT be excluded as “men”. What Donne expresses is not an argument but a petition for mercy and sympathy licensed to poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (2/21/2010 6:02:00 PM)

    Relax, Craddock! Fear not, the 'poem' is really a meditation on our short span of life, written by a devout cleric who had endured his share of trespassing on what he considered God's laws. The most Donne ever did wrong was engage in some adulterous behavior with the ladies of the court! To even compare this devout man with Adolf Hitler (or Josef Stalin who was a novice cleric in the Russian Orthodox faith as a young man) is to confuse apples with oranges! One named Donne did his damned-est to disobey his God but consider the monsters known as Hitler and Stalin and what they wrought! Note also that in the West (including the USA and the UK) Stalin is forgiven his destruction of entire nations from the Volga to the Yalu and beyond! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (2/21/2010 9:51:00 AM)

    I too like this poem, yet I cannot agree with it. Adolf Hitler is dead and I am not diminished one iota by his death. Nor am I diminished by the death of any other tyrant like him. Either before or after him. Shame on any who are. Those clods destroyed a lot more of Europe and other countries than I care to witness. The measure of that totaled loss of life and art, not to mention the suffering they caused, is no part of an island of my being. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 26 Points Joseph Poewhit (2/21/2010 3:54:00 AM)

    The body has many parts, so did the Frankenstein monster. Though, I think Donne had a different perspectine of the parts body view. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 41 Points Leonard Dabydeen (2/21/2010 1:48:00 AM)

    The strength of a chain is in its weakest link. All are important. All are consumate to the whole. Man shall not live by himself, but by the wisdom he acquires over time from his strengths and failures in the the environment he lives. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 508 Points Ramesh T A (2/21/2010 1:18:00 AM)

    Though each one is an individual like island all are part of the whole. Loss of one is a little loss of strength of the whole indeed! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Lawrence Linehan (1/12/2010 8:34:00 AM)

    Dear David Ogden,

    possibly the 'spellcheck' and 'autocorrect' facilities were disabled on his word processor that day - you knew what he meant anyway didn't you? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie David Ogden (10/22/2009 2:53:00 AM)

    Surely 'manner' should read 'manor'? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie David Ogden (10/22/2009 2:52:00 AM)

    Surely 'manner' should read 'manor'? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Anthony Foster (2/21/2009 1:13:00 PM)

    Brilliant! What prose, what freedom of expression and what truth. To read those words of wisdom a guide hopefully to youth. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Paddy Harris (11/17/2008 7:11:00 AM)

    Donne was a rector of the church in the village where I live. I wonder if the bells I have heard ringing throughout my life were the bells he was picturing when he wrote the last two lines. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pauline Hinder (6/28/2008 5:02:00 AM)

    John Donne, mere poet and man, noted 250 years before scientists claimed their 'Chaos Theory' that everything is connected. Donne used a 9-10 line poem, to state what has become a common theme in the 21st century.....he avoided using jargon and cold algebraic formulae to explain much more simply how your behaviour and mine is interconnected. The final lines about the tolling of the bells could be seen as a warning shot across all our bows; when anything dies, we are all lessened. It´s a shame that the commonality has in its own way diminished the value of the words. Whilst you and I may be have our lunch waiting us, there are others on the planet about to die of starvation. How can I still feel as good as I did before thinking of this fact - I too am diminished. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Helena Bispos (2/2/2008 1:12:00 AM)

    Quite simply a classic. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Dick Goddard (10/22/2007 4:26:00 PM)

    'as well as if a manor' should be used in lieu of 'manner'

    Source:
    Donne, John. The Works of John Donne. vol III.
    Henry Alford, ed.
    London: John W. Parker,1839.574-5. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Cecilia Nicoletti (2/21/2007 12:35:00 PM)

    Mankind as a one big spirit.That s been told from the vedas to the modern holistic science...what you do to other person you re doing to yourself and to humanity.No person will take the place of another.Nor person will be less than a star.
    Stars die and galaxies die.Why dont we? and only two days ago a man I never knew died.He was neighbour from my parents and I llive by his house for 12 years or more.He was a pianist and he played so good.Thats all I know from him and his name.A man is dead...if we re no islands why did nt I have to oporunity to tell him he played so good.We look at each other as strangers in fear.And the bells were for all of us and the person who draws near the island shores (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 866 Points Jasbir Chatterjee (2/21/2006 10:59:00 PM)

    I find the last 2 lines of the poem 'And therefore never send to know for whom
    the bell tolls; it tolls for thee' the most forceful and I feel this is where the whole thrust of the poem lies. (Report) Reply



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