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The Flea by John Donne


"The Flea" is a opem written by John Donne. In this poem, Donne speaks of his his love and tells her to look at the flea and how insignificant it is. That is the thing which she denies him. He states that the flea has sucked both of their bloods and now they are together inside the flea in sin. He states that it is more than what they would do. The woman then moves to kill the flea, but the speaker asks her to save their three lives within it. He then asks her what the fleas sin was. He then states that if she sleeps with him that she would lose no more honor than what she would lose by killing the flea.

This poem, "The Flea", is perhaps one of Donne's best known works and is cited contantly by teachers around the world. It is made up of three stanzas with nine lines in each. It is written in iambic foot, but varies betwen eight, ten, (and sometimes eleven) syllables.


The Flea

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 thee.

Next: For Whom the Bell Tolls
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