Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Any man's death dimishes me

There was a Simon Schama programme about John Donne tonight in the BBCs poetry season. It made me want to rush out and by a book of his poetry. I already have one, but sadly it is in storage with most of my other books. It is really beginning to annoy me.

I am not a fan of Simon Schama - I find his presentation style too off-putting. If it was just the weird vocal delivery, that would be one thing but there's also the squirming about. Fiona Shaw read the poems. I don't know why. Perhaps Schama didn't feel up to the job. But they are a man's poems, surely and very male. It was worth watching anyway just to be reacquainted with these words:

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 bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

Any man's death diminishes me. There few political leaders I can think of who wouldn't benefit from reading those words on a daily basis.

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