John Donne – 390 years old, an amazing piece of writing. I find that this meditation, defines and explains the human condition. The language may be difficult for most as it’s used to convey a deeper complexity than most will or are afraid of introspecting on.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each 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 thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
I’ve always been very fond of Donne, highly intelligent, thoughtful and a total horn-dog. I’ve only got the latter of those qualities (actually I have all three but I’m not arrogant to consider that my intelligence or thoughtfulness is any better than anyone else’s).
So how do we interpret this meditation? I think it means that how ever alone we may feel we are surrounded by others, each adding to the greater mass of people, each interconnected. Irrespective of whoever that person is, their loss, is a loss to me rather than the loss to our wider group. I’m studiously avoiding the word humanity as it has become debased by people not using the real concept, rather, being lazy and thinking they know what it is.
Donne was one of the great metaphysical poets (much better than Marvel – vegetable love doth grow tcha!), as such there is a lot of hidden meaning, symbolisism and depth to what you read on the surface.