The Flea

In which John Donne convinces you to have sex with him by talking about fleas. That rogue. Here’s the story: John Donne and his lady love are hanging out. There’s a flea that has bitten both of them. She goes to smash the flea, he begs her not to. She smashes it anyway.. This somehow further supports Donne’s argument that they should have sex. Knowing that may make it easier to understand the poem. Enjoy!

John Keating and John Donne agree about the purpose of language.
John Keating and John Donne agree about the purpose of language.

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two;
And this, alas! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true; then learn how false fears be;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from me.


3 thoughts on “The Flea

  1. I agree with Toshia that the intro helped put it in perspective, I’m not sure I would understand it at all if I didn’t have it. 🙂 but I think it’s lovely just the same.

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