"The Flea"
By John Donne

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Students and Staff of the University of Virginia
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London : M. F. for John Marriot, 1633We have taken our text from the Text Creation Partnership's digitized version of the 1633 edition of Donne's poems: https://github.com/textcreationpartnership/A69225/blob/master/A69225.xml. Donne's poems circulated in manuscript during his life time, and were not issued in a print version until this edition, which came out after Donne's death in 1632. The long "s" of the original has been modernized, but we have otherwise kept the original spelling. The title page has been sourced from Princeton University Special Collections.

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Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

Page breaks have been retained. Catchwords, signatures, and running headers have not.

Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section for more information.


Donne, John. "The Flea". Poems, by J. D., With Elegies on the Authors Death, M. F. for John Marriot, 1633 , 230-231 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Donne/donne-flea. Accessed: 2024-04-18T00:35:04.706Z

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By J. D[onne].

Printed by M. F. for [J]OHN MARRIOT,
and are to be sold at his shop in St Dunstans
Church-yard in Fleet-street.
The Flea. 1Marke but this flea, and marke in this, 2How little that which thou deny'st me is; 3It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, 4And in this flea, our two bloods mingled bee; 5Thou know'st that this cannot be said 6A sinne, nor shame nor losse of maidenhead, 7Yet this enjoyes before it wooe, 8And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two, 9And this, alas, is more then wee would doe. 10Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare, 11Where wee almost, yea more then maryed are. 12This flea is you and I, and this 13Our mariage bed, and mariage temple is; 14Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met, 15And cloysterd in these living walls of Jet. 16Though use make you apt to kill mee, 17Let not to that, selfe murder added bee, 18And sacrilege, three sinnes in killing three. 19Cruell and sodaine, hast thou since 20Purpled thy naile, in blood of innocence? 21Wherein could this flea guilty bee, 22Except in that drop which it suckt from thee? 23Yet thou triumph'st, and saist that thou 24Find'st not thy selfe, nor mee the weaker now; 25'Tis true, then learne how false, feares bee; 26Just so much honor, when thou yeeld'st to mee, 27Will wast, as this flea's death tooke life from thee.