Thursday, April 04, 2013

Poetry Month - Day 4

Recent flea issues with our dogs and then, inevitably, us, led me to think of this poem that I read in college.  My then-boyfriend and I had a lot of classes with a certain professor who really enjoyed John Donne's love poetry.  Only Donne could make a fleabite a subject for seduction.  Later that professor married us, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I definitely don't find fleas an aphrodisiac, but this is the kind of steamy stuff that we English majors love.


THE FLEA.
by John Donne


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.






1 comment:

Linda at teacherdance said...

My goodness, Ruth. In those olden days, fleas must have been prolific, hence this love poem. I can see how he must have connected the intertwining, but fleas! We've had our bout with them and dogs, but in another state. There are fewer of them here in this arid climate.