John Donne

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

No Man Is An Island - Poem by John Donne

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 No Man Is An Island by John Donne

  • Leonard Dabydeen 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

    15 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Ramesh T A 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

  • 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

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

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

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

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    Quite simply a classic. (Report) Reply

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

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

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

  • 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

  • Jasbir Chatterjee 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

  • Roger Price (2/28/2005 5:27:00 PM)

    In its simplicity, this poem demonstrates the equality of mankind. 'if a clod be washed away' is any person, rich or poor, of any physical or mental characteristics. No matter how prideful or arrogant, no man is an island, we each need every clod! (Report) Reply

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