Devotions upon Emergent Occasions is a 1624 prose work by the English writer John Donne, who dedicated it to the future King Charles I. 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.) He describes this as a "preternatural birth, in returning to life, from this sickness". The work consists of twenty-three parts ('devotions') describing each stage of the sickness. Each part is further divided into a Meditation, an Expostulation, and a Prayer.
Meditation XVII is perhaps the best-known part of the work. It forms part of Devotion XVII (subtitled "Now, this bell tolling for another, says to me, thou must die."), in which the patient prepares himself to die,and contains the following passage:
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
It is the origin of the phrase "No man is an island." The phrase "For whom the bell tolls" was later famously used as the title of a 1940 novel by Ernest Hemingway about the Spanish Civil War. Hemingway's title in turn provided the title for a song by the heavy metal group Metallica.
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