No Man Is An Island By Derek Walcott

846 Words Feb 8th, 2016 4 Pages
In John Donne’s lyric poem “No man is an island” he describes himself, as a man who cares about the whole; not just the individual. He writes about someone who whole-heartedly believes in everybody working together and performing their given role in society. However, in Derek Walcott’s mash-up poem “Ruins of a great house” he argues that Donne is “selectively compassionate” (Miya, 2016). If we read the two poems together we see that the two poets engage in cleverly written conversation. While Donne states he is a man who cares for the collective society, Derek Walcott’s poem calls Donne out as a hypocrite, stating he is eurocentric and doesn’t care at all about the people who live and work on the colonies, or the slaves who have been forced into labor by the British Empire. Donne states that he is all for community but as Walcott, convincingly, points out if he was all for community he wouldn’t be so Eurocentric. He would care for the colonies and not just the mainland. These themes of ethnic superiority and ethnocentrism, presented in the poem, are still vastly prevalent in modern society.
Donne’s poem is written from his point view therefore, we can safely assume that these are his personal thoughts and opinions. In the poem he states that, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man/ is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” (Donne, 1-2). Nobody is their own individual; everybody has their own role in society that they must carry out to their full ability. He…
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