The Interpretation of “No Man Is an Island” – A Line of quote by John Donne

The Background
“No Man Is an Island” has always remained a common saying across the world. In any case, it’s neither a proverb nor a poem. It’s only a famous line of quote dropped by the English poet, John Donne in his “Meditation XVII”. Actually, John Donne wrote a famous prose work titled “Devotions upon Emergent Occasion” in 1624. The work is a series of reflections which he wrote as he recovered from a serious illness. Each part of the work is divided into Mediation, a Prayer and an Expostulation. Mediation XVII is a part of the entire prose work which contains the quote; “No Man Is an Island”.

The Structure
No Man Is an Island” is written in a single verse of 7 lines. It has no rhyme scheme. It’s simply written in a meditative mood.

The Meaning
In writing the short verse with the titled, “No Man Is an Island”, Donne compares mankind to continent. He sees each person as part of the continent and not as an island. He maintains that when a clod breaks off from any continent, such a continent becomes lesser than as it was initially. By this assertion, Donne is referring to the effect of death. When someone dies, mankind which he sees as a continent becomes shortened by that death of the individual.
From the above, we can deduce some interpretations. “No Man Is an Island” suggests that human beings should not live in isolation. We’re all interconnected to one another. No one stands alone like an island that is surrounded only by the sea. We need one another to survive in life.

You will also find here the video on the recitation of No Man is an Island.

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A. Garg

I am a software engineer by profession and poetry is my hobby. I like literary works and visiting ancient works. Some of my works are available with this website...

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