Poem “The Flea” by John Donne with Complete Text

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,

How little that which thou deniest me is;

It sucked 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 pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, nay more than married are.

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;

Though parents grudge, and you, w’are met,

And cloistered 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 sucked from thee?

Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou

Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;

’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:

Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

Summary

In John Donne’s poem “The Flea,” the poet encourages his sweetheart to watch the flea closely and note that what she denies to him is not very important. The flea first drank her blood before taking his. Thus, their respective bloods are mingled together within its body. She must admit that the mixing of their blood with that of the flea does not constitute sin, embarrassment, or the loss of virginity. However, the flea has already experienced her without any wooing or courting, and as a result, its body has swollen from the enjoyment of their respective blood, which is now mixing inside it. The body laments the fact that humans are unable to engage in such immediate delight and fulfillment. In the first phrase, the term “Marke” means to attentively examine, and in the second line, the word “union” suggests that the bodily union she has been refusing to have with him has taken place in the flea’s body. That is to say, she hasn’t benefited much from all of her attempts to rebuff his approaches. When the poet uses the phrase “maidenhead” in the sixth line of the verse, he is referring to the beloved’s virginity; but, when he writes, “With one blood made of two,” he is referring to the two people’s individual bloods that mix and unite to become one in the flea’s body.

Because her blood and his blood are mixed within the flea’s body, they are more than wedded and the lover cannot kill the flea. As a result, in addition to serving as their wedding chapel, the flea’s body also serves as their bridal bed. Despite her own and her parents’ protests, their blood mixes in with the flea’s body as they engage in sex. They have met in private behind the four walls that make up its body, cut off from the outside world. Killing the unfortunate creatures would be triple murder, thus she shouldn’t do it. Both the flea and the poet whose blood it has sucked would be killed by her. Additionally, it will constitute self-murder, which is forbidden by faith. Killing the flea would constitute three murders in one, which is sin and sacrilege. When the poet uses the phrase “Oh stay” in the second stanza, he is referring to the beloved getting ready to kill the flea, while the phrase “three lives” refers to the flea, the lover, and the beloved herself.

The lover accuses the beloved of being impulsive and harsh as she kills the flea. With the blood of the defenseless flea, she has stained her nails purple. Other than sucking a drop of her blood, what did the poor thing do wrong? Triumphant, the beloved asserts that having murdered it hasn’t made her or her partner any weaker. This is entirely accurate. She should take away from this that her concerns of losing her honor by consenting to her lover’s approaches are unfounded. She will lose respect by giving herself over to him, just as the flea that drank her blood died with little loss to her own life. The poet’s use of the phrase “purpled thy naile” refers to the beloved actually killing the flea and staining her nails with innocent blood as a result. And when he says, “‘Tis true; then learn how false, fears be,” he means that she shouldn’t worry that she will lose honor by yielding to her lover because she hasn’t lost any honor from the flea sucking her blood, even though the meaning of words like “Will waste” means will lost.

Analysis of the Poem “The Flea” by John Donne

John Donne was an English poet who later became a priest in the Church of England. He was a scruffy, stern, and secretive child of a recusant family.  He was appointed Deacon of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London under royal patronage.  He is regarded as the foremost representative of the metaphysical poets.  His poetic works, which include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, elegy poems, songs, and satires, are known for their metaphysical and sensual tones.  He is also well known for his servants.

Many people assume that because John Donne wrote this poem when he was a young man studying to become a lawyer, it was intended to impress his male acquaintances.  Later in life, Donne became seriously involved in religion, ultimately ending up as the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1621.

The poet in John Dunne’s poem “The Flea” asks his beloved to treat the flea with kindness and emphasizes that what she refuses to him is not very significant.  The flea sucked her blood before sucking his.  In this way, their respective bloods are combined throughout its body.  She needs to understand that mixing their blood with the flea’s body is neither sinful nor shameful nor a loss of virginity.

However, the flea has enjoyed her without any wooing or courtship, and as a result, its body is now swollen from the enjoyment of their respective blood, which is now mixing within it.  The body laments that direct enjoyment and consumption of this kind is not possible for human beings.

The first word, “Mаrke,” means to carefully observe, while the usage of the word “union” in the second sentence indicates that the physical union that she has refused to give him has been achieved in the flea’s body.  That is to say, she hasn’t benefited much from her attempts to distance herself from his advantages.  With the word “maidenhead” in the sixth line of the stanza, he is implying the virginity of the beloved, whereas the meaning of the line “With оne blood made оf twо” is that he is referring to their respective bloods that mingle and become one in the flea’s body.

Because their blood is mixed within the flea’s body, they are more than just married, hence the loving must refrain from killing it.  As a result, in addition to serving as their wedding tent, the flea’s body also serves as their bridal bed.  Despite the objections of her parents and her own objections, their blood mixes in the flea’s body as they engage in sex-act.  They have been cut off from the outside world and have met in private within the four walls that make up its body.

She shouldn’t kill the poor creatures since doing so would be triple murder.  She would kill both the flea and the animal whose blood it had drawn.  Additionally, it will be a self-murder, which is forbidden by religion.  The death of the flea would be sinful and sacrilegious; it would be the equivalent of three murders in one.  When the poet says, “I stay,” in the second stanza, he means to imply that the beloved is getting ready to kill the flea, with the meaning of the phrase “three lives” being the lives of the flea, the lover, and the beloved herself.

The lover refers to the beloved as cruel and harsh as she kills the flea.  She has stained her fingernails with the innocent flea’s blood.  What exactly did the poor creature do wrong, except than sucking a drop of her blood?  The beloved is triumphant and claims that having murdered it hasn’t made either her or her lover any weaker.  This is absolutely true.  She should understand from this that her fears of losing her honor by giving in to her lover’s advances are unfounded.

She will lose honor by giving herself over to him, just as she has lost little life in the passing of the flea that sucked her blood.  The poet means to imply that the beloved actually killed the flea and afterwards purified her nails with impure blood when he writes, “urрled thy nаile.”

And when he says, “‘Tis true; then learn how false, fears are,” he is implying that since she hasn’t lost any honor as a result of the flea sucking her blood, she shouldn’t fear that she will lose any honor as a result of yielding to her lover, whereas the meaning of words like “Will wаste” means that something will be lost.

What is the basic conceit of “The Flea”?

In one of his most famous conceits, Donne compares the flea’s body to a temple and a bed for a marriage. The lover begs her to remain and refrain from killing the flea as the beloved is ready to kill it. The same way that they are linked via marriage in a church, their two different types of blood have been combined within its body.

Therefore, its body is a temple where they were wed. Through sexual activity, the blood of the lover and the beloved mix. As a result of their mixing in the flea, its body is now their marital bed. Despite her own and her parents’ misgivings, they meet in the seclusion of its body. She must not kill the flea since doing so would go beyond the level of cruelty she is accustomed to. It will be wrong, sacrilegious. There would be three murders. Donne gives his longing for bodily contact with his beloved a special intensity and immediacy by using theological terminology to describe the insignificant act of killing a flea.

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