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Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions Together With Death's Duel

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By: (1572-1631)

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions is a 1624 prose work by the English theologian and writer John Donne, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is a series of reflections that were written as Donne recovered from a serious illness. The work consists of twenty-three parts ('devotions') describing each stage of the sickness. Each part is further divided into a Meditation, an Expostulation (or objection) , and a Prayer. The work is an excellent example of seventeenth century English spirituality and sometimes feels a bit dated. Yet much solid nourishment can be found. “Death’s Duel” is Donne’s last sermon prepared for presentation before the King during Lent; it is commonly seen as Donne’s own funeral oration. The biographical material is from Izaak Walton’s Lives. The most famous part of the Devotions is number XVII (17), containing these lines: 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 bells tolls; it tolls for thee.


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