Sample Paper on Connecting the Message in John Donne’s Two Poems

The second paragraph of John Donne’s two-paragraph meditation, “Meditation XVII” opens with the centuries old wisdom line “No man is an island.” While the line has become clichés, it points to the connectedness of humanity. Within the context of the spiritual context that Donne wrote it, the line points to the oneness of all humanity in God. It is a poignant message that highlight that the importance of each individual to the human race. In the eyes of Donne, the human race which is symbolized by a continent such as Europe is diminished “if a clod be washed away by the sea” (“Meditation XVII” n.pag). Such loss is felt at individual level because the death affects every individual because all of us are interconnected through humanity. The tolling of the bell to signify the funeral of one individual affects the consciousness of everyone.

This message of interconnectedness of humanity and the existence of human race as a continent is replicated in John Donne’s poem, “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”. In the poem, Donne uses the compass to describe the unity between two individuals in a relationship. Like a compass, two people in a relationship are like the two feet of the compass: separate entities by joined in union of purpose. Even if one individual “far doth roam”, the other reaches out and “hearkens after it” (“A Valediction” 6.38 – 39). The relationship grows and erects when the roaming foot “comes home”. This bond and unity, that is unbreakable even by death is the central message in Donne’s “No man is an island.” Human race is connected like a compass in a soul to soul unity that is unbreakable even by death. The soul in this case is metaphor for a fixed root or the human race.



Works Cited

Donne, John. “Meditation XVII”. The Literature Network, n.d. Available at:

Donne, John. “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Available at: