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Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne
By: (1572-1631)

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions is a 1624 prose work by the English writer John Donne. It is a series of reflections that were written as Donne recovered from a serious illness, believed to be either typhus or relapsing fever. (Donne does not clearly identify the disease in his text.) The work consists of twenty-three parts describing each stage of the sickness. Each part is further divided into a Meditation, an Expostulation, and a Prayer.

The seventeenth meditation is perhaps the best-known part of the work. It contains the following passage:
“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.”


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