No one is an island

I’ve been reflecting upon John Donne’s “Meditation 17” quite a bit lately, so I thought I’d portions of it with you. John Donne was an English poet living in the late 1500s-early 1600s. From my understanding, the church bells were rung upon someone’s illness or death. His “Meditation 17” is mentioned by both Ernest Hemingway and Metallica. I’m changing some of the language to reflect inclusive language.

You can find the full meditation here.

church bells



Perchance [the one] for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that [s]he knows not it tolls for them, and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member….

No one is an island, entire of itself; every person is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, [the world] 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: any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in humankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.  (Emphasis mine)


Author: Kate Hanch

I like to laugh, study theology, the church, & Missouri sports. Sister, daughter, wife, Baptist, Christian feminist, friend, minister, PhD student in theology, wanderlust.

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