John Donne

The Flea

    Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
    How little that which thou deny’st me is;
    It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
    And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be.
5   Thou know’st that 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.
10   Oh 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, w’are met,
15   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
20   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 thyself, nor me the weaker now;
25      ’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.

Robert Clark

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