“No Man is an Island”

In college I was an English Lit major. We bisected, dissected and dismembered  hundreds, maybe thousands, of books of fiction, plays and poems.  No one believes me when I tell them  can’t remember the storyline or characters in any of them.  It’s true.  The minute I got my hard-earned diploma my brain stored all that information in an inaccessible data bank marked “Misc. other”.  Looking back I was a bit daft with that choice of a major – what do you do with a B.A. in English Lit?

In the 4th grade, during National Poetry Month, we were given an assignment to memorize a poem to recite in class.  While others were memorizing poems like  “Casey at the Bat” or the “Walrus and the Carpenter” I picked “No Man is an Island” by John Donne.  Looking back I’m sure my fellow students thought I was a bit daft with this choice.

I wasn’t considered to be a precocious child but even then something inside told me we were all connected in a way that I couldn’t  fathom. Looking back I do believe that poem was the seed of finding truth in the Baha’i tenent that we are all connected, we are all one.

The truth I found in that poem made such an impact on me I can still recite it half a century later.

This month is National Poetry Month.

No Man is an Island by John Donne

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 a manor of thy friends or of thine own were;
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.

4 thoughts on ““No Man is an Island”

  1. Thanks Judy..that’s a wonderful poem… I loved it.. yes, “the bell tolls for thee….” God help me keep listening to it ..there is so much of internal noise…

    I had written:

    My heart is so full of noise
    God how do I hear your voice..
    God heard me and laughed
    then said ” your choice”:



  2. That WAS a pretty precocious choice for a 9 year old. It’s probably not germane to Mr. Donne’s meaning, but with my constant Tinnitus, the bell is always ringing for me.


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