The Flea

Original Text: 
Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 53.
1    Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
2How little that which thou deny'st me is;
3    Me it suck'd first, and now sucks thee,
4And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
5    Confess it, this cannot be said
6A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,
7       Yet this enjoys before it woo,
8And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two;
9And this, alas, is more than we would do.
10    Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
11Where we almost, nay more than married are:
12    This flea is you and I, and this
13Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
14    Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
15And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
16       Though use make you apt to kill me,
17Let not to that self-murder added be,
18And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
19    Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
20Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
21    In what could this flea guilty be,
22Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
23    Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
24Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now;
25       'Tis true, then learn how false fears be;
26Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
27Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
Rhyme: