Tag Archives: Truth

No Man is an Island

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. 

 

This wasn’t written as a poem, but as part of Donne’s “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, a reflection on life while he was seriously ill. The words below are from Meditation XVII, and it’s well worth reading the whole of that meditation.

More on Donne’s Devotions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotions_upon_Emergent_Occasions

The whole of Meditation XVII: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Meditation_XVII

Note: I just realized I posted on this topic in 2013. This is an expanded and somewhat different entry.

You do not have to be good.

Wow. This is the most beautiful poem I’ve read in a while. It’s worth thinking through what this is saying to you, and what your answer will be.


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver 

You can watch the author reading her poem here: