John Donne’s “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls /It tolls for thee”

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 manner 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.

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.

“If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less”-a beautiful image .A clod is an unimportant thing,usually meaning a stupid person,an unworthy man.Even if a man who has not made any mark on the world dies ,Europe,the whole continent is the less as much as it would be the less if a promontory is lost . As if the manner of your own or your friends is lost. Each man’s death diminishes me because I am not an island but part of the continent and if a part of the continent is lost a part of me is lost.

In a village if the church bell rings to announce the death of a person the usual question asked is “who is the person ” and the poet says do not ask the question because it does not really matter for whom the bell tolls. When anybody dies a part of you dies and the bell is tolling for you.

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