"Any man's death diminishes
me," said John Donne in 1623, "because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for
whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." The bell tolled
for him on 31st March 1631, but before this, he rose from his deathbed
to preach his last sermon before the King, on, appropriately, the subject of
Death. It was published shortly afterwards, with as a frontispiece a portrait
of Donne as if dead.
In it he considers death from various aspects, with copious references to the Scriptures. He confronts the physical reality of death before moving to the idea of the final resurrection. He ultimately discusses the life and death of Jesus Christ, .finally concluding that if he could confront the horrors of dying for mankind, than so can we.