No Man Is An Island

The poem below has a title borrowed from the English poet John Donne. It was not the title of a separate poem by Donne, but instead was a line included in his “Meditation XVII,” which was from a longer work entitled “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.”  My poem, I hope, gives a modern view of the basic truth of the “oneness” of our human race to which he referred in his own immortal words.


public domain ambulance imageA siren wails,
And in our modest town,
From one end to the next,
We hear its cry.

And though we try
To keep our focus sharp
Upon the tasks at hand,
We feel the pain.

We know the strain
Of facing hurt and fear,
Of crisis, loss, and tears,
And wonder – who?

Naught we can do,
Except to pray for God,
Who knows the victim’s name,
To give His aid.

And prayer being made,
We focus once again
On our own lives, until
A siren wails.





4 thoughts on “No Man Is An Island

  1. Bill, you have a serious problem. I wrote this poem about what I personally feel every time I hear a siren, which proclaims that another human being is in trouble. I hurt for that person even though I don’t know him, and I pray for him. I know a number of other caring Christian people who do the same. So I’m writing about what I know. You, on the other hand, know nothing. You have judged me and accused me of “parroting” what someone else has said, yet you do not know me at all. And you are totally consumed with your own ego and idiotic ideas to the point that you cannot comprehend what I’ve said here.

    Moreover, you dare to ask the question “Who would die for you?” I’ll tell you who: thousands of men and women have died for me and FOR YOU in the past generations in order to give you a chance to live in a world where you are still free to choose how you want to live your life, free to believe whatever you want to believe, and free to speak your mind and say anything you want to say without being punished for it. If those people hadn’t died FOR YOU, you’d be living on a Nazi controlled planet or an Islamic controlled planet, and in either case, you’d be dead meat if you dared to speak your mind the way you have in this post. Thank goodness, for your sake, that those people who died FOR YOU did NOT consider themselves an island unto themselves.

  2. I actually had to laugh a bit when I read this, because I have been guilty myself of having so much on my mind at times that I’ve looked at only part of a situation and gotten things wrong. Then I felt terrible. So I do understand. No serious harm done. You got to vent, and so did I. Once I know you’ve received this response, I’ll just delete the conversation, and we’ll start from square one.

    1. I am so relieved. I really felt horrible from the time I first read your email until now. I’m unpopular enough. Last thing I want is to have someone else angry at me. Thank you for being so understanding.

      Incidentally, from age 17 to 20, I was with the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Department, Harford County, Maryland. They didn’t have the technology for EMT then, but I was very involved with ambulance and rescue. It was one of the very best times of my life. I too have found myself praying for some unfortunate soul as a siren screamed on by me…


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