Georges de La Tour. Woman Catching a Flea.

Woman Catching Fleas by George de La Tour c1630

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Explication of Poem
Essay on The Flea


             The Flea
                   by John Donne (1572-1631)

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is.
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be.
Confess it, this cannot be said
A sin, or shame, or 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, we're met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
   Though use make you apt to kill me,
   Let not to this, self-murder added be,
   And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
In what 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 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.
                                                                                                              (Pub. 1633)


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