Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | April 22, 2023

No man is an Iland…

I placed the two first lines of this famous John Donne’s poem in my mathematics paper as an epigraph. This is the whole poem:

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; 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 Manor 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.

“Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”
by John Donne, 1623

The date is unbelievable: 400 years ago.


  1. Dear Sasha, John Donne, as well as Francis Bacon and probably Shakespeare, might have read a version of Montaigne Essays (1580,1598,…). First published translation of the Essays is 1603 I think.

    Frequent quotes are :
    « j’estime tous les hommes mes compatriotes. »(Essais 3rd vol, ch. 9)

    «Chaque homme porte la forme entière de l’humaine
    condition» (Essais 3rd vol, ch. 2)

    and his defense of the humanity of “sauvages”.

    But this goes much older : Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto (Terence, 150 BCE)

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