Have you ever been ostracized by your peer group or have you ostracized someone? The world we are living doesn’t want a person to be different from them and so for various reasons such individuals are isolated. But no matter how different an individual may be, he is still a part of the bigger community, the human kind. Dealing with this theme is John Donne’s poem ‘No Man is an Island.’
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
We shouldn’t think of ourselves as belonging to no community and we should also not label someone as belonging to no community. Though we have different labels identifying based on our gender, nationality, and race, we all live on the same earth. We look at the same sky and breathe the same air.
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.
John Donne emphasizes the importance of every individual on the earth. When a clod is washed away by the sea, we may not feel concerned much. Even the clod is as important as a promontory. This comparison is used to convey the message that even the most insignificant individual is as important as our friend. We should love and respect every other individual just as we love and respect our closed ones.
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.
Donne concludes the poem with an appeal to universal love and companionship. Even a stranger’s death would make the poet sad because the stranger belongs to humankind. When the church bell tolls announcing the death of the stranger, it is not only for their acquaintances but also for us. We needn’t know the person personally to share their sorrow.
Today, we have so much going on in our earth. People are suffering and dying because of the pandemic and war all over the world. It is only natural for us to feel sad when we watch such news. Due to the pandemic, many are quarantined and isolated. While they fight the virus, they have to fight loneliness too. So, even if we can’t help them physically, we should at least support them emotionally by sending prayers, kind words and positive thoughts. Thus, this poem is apt even after many centuries.