The Flea- John Donne
Marke but this flea, and marke in this,
How little that which deny'st me is;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled bee;
Though know'st that this cannot be said
A sinne, nor shame, nor losse of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoyes before it wooe,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two
And this, alas, is more than we would doe.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea space,
Where we almost, yea more than maryed are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our mariage bed, and mariage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloysterd in these living walls of Jet.
Though use make you apt to kill mee,
Let not to that, selfe murder added bee,
And sacrilege, three sinnes in killing three.
Cruell and sodaine, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty bee,
Except that drop in which it suckt from three?
Yet thou triumph'st, and saist that thou
Find'st not thy selfe, nor mee the weaker now;
'Tis true, then learn how false, feares bee;
Just so much honor, when thou yeeld'st to mee,
Will wast, as this flea's death to life from thee.
So I read this poem in my senior year of high school and then it popped up again on my poetry syllabus for class a few weeks ago, and it has always been one of my favorites. I think what gets me about it is that it's basically a love poem, but it's completely unconventional and the ideas presented in it are a lot more convincing than the more typical 'I love you so much yay' type of thing.
The way I interpret it is, Donne is basically saying to this woman he's in love with that they are going to end up together because of fate, and this flea is mixing their bloods anyway so they may as well go through with doing whatever they want to because it's pretty much already happened. He says that doing their thang isn't a sinne any more than being bitten by the same flea is a sinne because it's natural, and no one can judge them. It's a strange poem and the title is a little lackluster, plus the sexual innuendos are practically overflowing the page and his end goal is pretty obvious throughout the poem, but in a way I think it's one of the most romantic things I've ever read because he's just talking about how she can't deny that they belong together because even the flea is showing it by taking both of their bloods, and their union is something totally natural and normal and not-scary. I'm a big believer in fate and things being meant to happen, and he plays on that idea a lot, and in an unconventional way I think this poem is really beautiful.
I love you,