This poignant quotation on this tea towel is from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, a 1624 work by the English poet John Donne. It’s a reminder of our connection to the rest of humanity and that we cannot thrive when are isolated from others – a particularly important message in a political era where the rhetoric of division and isolation seems increasingly common.
Here’s the full verse:
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.
The words seem freshly relevant now the UK left the European Union. The UK as a whole voted in June 2016 by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union on a turnout of 72% (notwithstanding the majority in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voting to remain).
The EU traces its origins to 1952 when West Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg came together to form the European Coal and Steel Community, declaring it to be “a first step in the federation of Europe”. This led on to the Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957, which created the European Economic Community. The UK joined the EEC (or ‘Common Market’) in 1973. A referendum on continued UK membership in 1975 was approved by 67% of voters. The European Union flag of 12 yellow stars on a blue background was adopted in 1986. The EEC became the European Union in 1993 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Now that the UK has left the European Union there are 27 states remaining.