Photo of bust of John Donne in the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London 4 December 2017
Sometimes it feels as though there will be no end to the Brexit disaster story, and perhaps there is a fundamental truth in that instinct but some days, I have to switch off entirely from the constant dire warnings from the media, otherwise it can be overwhelming. So imagine my delight to come across this poem by John Donne recently when I was searching for something else entirely and what a pearl it is. Naturally, I immediately thought of Brexit (oh yes, its impact knows no bounds).
As ‘Bregret’ is on the rise and reports suggest that up to 64% of the British electorate have taken against Brexit, this would be a good time to remind the other 36% of John Donne’s words written nearly 400 years ago. Although Donne refers to Europe in these short lines, it is not hard to see the wider implications for the rest of the world, i.e., we have more in common than divides us.
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;
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;
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.