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Α Ν Α Γ Ν Ω Σ Τ Η Ρ Ι Ο

Σάββατο, 10 Αυγούστου 2013

John Donne (1572-1631): FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS [poem]



PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he 
knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so 
much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my 
state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The 
church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she 
does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action 
concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which 
is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. 
And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is 
of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is 
not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; 
and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several 
translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, 
some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every 
translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves 
again for that library where every book shall lie open to one 
another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not 
upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this 
bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the 
door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in 
which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were 
mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers 
first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring 
first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of 
this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to 
make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be 
ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him 
that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that 
minute that this occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. 
Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes 
off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his 
ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove 
it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this 
world? 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. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing 
of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but 
must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the 
misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness 
if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath 
enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and 
ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man 
carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none 
coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he 
travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not 
current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our 
home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to 
death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a 
mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his 
affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this 
consideration of another’s danger 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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