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For Whom the Bell Tolls
by
John Donne


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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.

 

This poem is in the public domain.

 


 

John Donne (1572 - 1631) was an English writer and poet. As a Catholic in a time when that denomination was illegal in England, he endured constant prejudice and harassment and was ultimately forced into joining the Anglican church by King James I. Early in his life, John earned a reputation as a playboy and spendthrift, but at 25, he fell in love with Anne More. Despite her father's scorn, the couple married, had a dozen children, and John became a devoted—if not financially successful—family man. His career forays included law, diplomatic service, and church leadership, but he is best remembered as the founder of a group called the "metaphysical” poets. Popular during his lifetime, then dismissed for many years as inferior because it was so different from other poetry of that time, John's work is today considered brilliant and his influence on literature legendary.

 


Post New Comment:
Perry Debell:
Therefore, send not to know For whom Debell tolls, It tolls for thee.
Posted 05/20/2021 01:33 PM
doUknowdahemingwey:
"Send not to know for whom the bell tolls" is one of the most powerful quotes ever, in my opinion. I think people should take it to heart more often. in the time of this pandemic (as I'm writing this) we must ask not for whom the bell tolls, as it tolls for thee.
Posted 04/29/2021 04:45 PM
Dreow the druid :
An astonishing poem that reminds me of a core teaching in esoteric druidry. All is connected for we are all part of creation and therefore God.
Posted 12/23/2020 11:50 PM
marclowy:
I too would have attributed this expression to Hemmingway. However, Roddy McDowall had never met Donald J. Trump who has gotten away (so far) with everything in this age of the internet. Thank you for mentioning Mr.McDowall as he would never have crossed my feeble mind. The internet is good for some things like our remembrances of John Donne, Ernest Hemmingway, Roddy McDowall,and "For whom the Bell Tolls."
Posted 10/31/2020 01:49 AM
Chatmaggie:
My grandson asked me where the expression "For whom the Bell Tolls" comes from and my husband immediately quoted Ernest Hemmingway's book of that name, but I somewhere in my memory was the remnants of a well lived poem. Thanks for being my source of that poem by Donne and also for the enjoyment our grandchildren got from it.
Posted 06/30/2020 07:44 AM
Robin2:
Pow- Zap- I stand corrected- it was The Bookworm (Roddy McDowall)...(you can?t get away with anything in the age of the Internet).
Posted 05/25/2020 11:46 PM
Robin2:

Posted 05/25/2020 11:31 PM
Robin2:
I have loved this verse since I first heard it, when ?The Penguin? (Burgess Meredith) quoted it to his nemesis- Batman, in the old 1960?s TV series.
Posted 05/25/2020 11:22 PM
Neutral_Observer:
Ask not for whom the coursework deadline tolls, It tolls for thee!
Posted 04/24/2020 07:08 AM
GREVILLE_LIBURD@ATT.NET:
"No One Is an Island One universe, one breath - the vine, enjoining with the branches, Individual human lives, enjoined in different circumstances - A supernatural unanimity of source - All earth's microcosmic pieces linked by one infinite resource. No one is an island, and cannot be, Each is an integral drop in a supernatural sea. We plunder others - we slaughter, and oppress, And sometimes spurn our neighbors in distress. We revile, but sometimes repent and then embrace in love, As we manage our prejudices to improve. Universal acknowledgement of man's guilt is key, In total submission, we can admit our faults with humility. We can still unite as one body - the vine, enjoining with all the branches, And form one mystical composite of conjoined, and blessed circumstances." from: Poetry Alive at http://sbprabooks.com/GrevilleGLiburd
Posted 01/26/2020 12:20 PM
Jonclif:
I have loved this since I was a teenager - a long time ago now. I had a brilliant English teacher when I was around 14 who asked us to read this and explain it. Also things like "A Burnt Ship". If you think there is any difference between Meditations and Poetry, or think that Poetry has to rhyme, you should probably think deeply, and choose again. Best wishes to all, John
Posted 12/24/2019 01:34 AM
Esther:
This is NOT a poem. It is the 17 th Meditation from John Donne's 'Devotions upon Emergent Occasions' published in 1623.
Posted 12/20/2019 01:21 AM
hollis517:
i, too, am involved in mankind. this is a great poem.
Posted 05/02/2019 05:07 PM
paradea:
This is great!!
Posted 02/19/2016 12:00 AM
Mary Lou Taylor:
One of my favorite poets, the leading metaphysical poets of his time.
Posted 02/17/2016 02:20 PM
Michael:
Love the artistic perfection of Donne's work. Thanks Jane, for this post.
Posted 02/17/2016 10:53 AM
Ginny C.:
This poem is timeless.
Posted 02/17/2016 10:39 AM
Lori Levy:
Didn't know this was the source for Hemingway's title. Good poem!
Posted 02/17/2016 10:02 AM
Janet Leahy:
A perfect poem for us this morning as we spend time with a friend in hospice care.
Posted 02/17/2016 08:59 AM
rtaylor947@aol.com:
One of the great classics of English lit.
Posted 02/17/2016 08:56 AM
Wilda Morris:
A fine poem and wonderful reminder.
Posted 02/17/2016 08:05 AM
KevinArnold:
Wonderful. Thanks, Janyne.
Posted 02/17/2016 05:12 AM
Ross Kightly:
Ah, the very great and immensely complex John Donne - he also had one of the great senses of humour: at an early stage of his apparently ill-starred liaison with Anne he wrote: 'John Donne, Anne Donne, undone!' Which happily turned out not exactly to be a true prediction. Any poet who begins a poem 'Busy old fool, unruly sun, why dost thou thus...' is worth looking at. Great stuff Jayne; thank you.
Posted 02/17/2016 05:08 AM
rhonasheridan:
I have loved this poem for years. So good to see it still read
Posted 02/17/2016 04:27 AM


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