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No Man Is An Island

Rating: 4.0

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,
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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....'
Smoky Hoss 21 February 2011

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

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Randall Stevenson 22 October 2013

John Donne was a lawyer, poet, satirist and clergyman. It was an English traditional to ring the bells of a law school when one of its barristers (lawyers) died. Law offices would send messengers to the school to inquire who died by asking, “For whom does the bell toll? ” John Donne had lost his father at age 4. Although John Donne had completed education at Cambridge and Oxford he was denied degrees because he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, an oath that recognized the sovereign of England as the head of religion of the country. Although a barrister (lawyer) , this forced him to live a life bordering on poverty. Several of John Donne’s friends and close relatives were killed or exiled because they were Catholics who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. His brother, who after being tortured for harboring a Catholic priest until he betrayed the priest, was imprisoned in Newgate prison, where he died of bubonic plague. The harbored priest was then tortured on the rack, hung until he was almost dead and then killed by disembowelment. John Donne reconsidered and took the Oath of Supremacy, for which he was materially rewarded with influential positions. However, he saw how each of these deaths had diminished him; and years later published this meditation. In the full meditation he talks about the complete connectedness of the universal church and how the impact of one impacts all. I think it was a reflection on I Cor.12: 12-31 and/or Romans 12: 4-5 (For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.)

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Bharati Nayak 01 August 2015

Thanks for enlightening us on John Donne's life which would help in understanding his poems.

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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!

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Carlos Echeverria 21 February 2012

A distillation of philosophy and science into a classic poem..

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Jose Gonzalez 20 September 2021

We are all interconnected so when you die a piece of me dies. I like the poem dont agree with its premise cause there are people i wish would drop dead

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No man is a island by John Donne is poem to be remembered and praised.

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A wonderful poem with a deep insight into human life and the unity and togetherness both in life and death.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 09 August 2021

To my Favourites and Congrats for the Classic Poem Of The day! John Donne, my most favourite poet too.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 09 August 2021

4) not just THINKING about what you can do, but actually DO it! 5 Stars full for this 'cozy' analytical poem. I surely have enjoyed.

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