“Found poem” by John Donne, For Whom The Bell Tolls.

A good many years ago, when I was still almost young, I was searching in John Donne's poems for the sonnet, For Whom The Bell Tolls. I had studied the metaphysical poets, at what would now be called sixth form college.

I had made the well-known mistake of confusing the source of this famous quotation. It actually comes from Meditation 17. Our English teacher had read it to us, but such is its poetic force, I remembered it as verse.

When I made this rediscovery, I must've still had some lingering regard for the sonnet form – that dates me – because I scanned his prose. And to my recall, it comprised almost sonnet length.

I thought it must have been an abandoned sonnet, like one of those Easter Island cylinder heads, left only partly quarried.

Memory does play one false. I tried to find this passage from Donne's sermons, till I saw a note of my own, which mentioned meditations. The paragraph in question is shorter than I thought, about 10 lines worth. The meditation's closing passage supplies the deficit in a meaningful way. For which purpose, I've decided to add a six-line extract.

If the resulting verse is a "sonnet", it is a free verse Meredith sonnet! George Meredith introduced the 16 line sonnet, adding two lines, to make four uniform rhyming verses.
This “found poem” by John Donne, For Whom The Bell Tolls, does not rhyme, unless by accident. I have not changed any of his words. Two breaks are each shown by the customary three dots...

Meditation 17 is of the bell that tells of another's affliction, and, in thus digging the gold of affliction, applies that gold for me.
Here, Donne's found poem is dug out of his meditation.

Richard Lung
2 january 2013

For Whom The Bell Tolls

by John Donne.

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...

No man hath afflicion enough, that is
not matured and ripened by it, and made
fit for God by that affliction... I take
mine own into contemplation, and so
secure myself, by making my recourse
to my God, who is our only security.

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