Rhyme liii

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The poem that I have received is ‘The Flea’ by John Donne and is included in The ‘Songs & Sonnets’.

The Flea is one of John Donne's most popular, erotic poems. As the title Indicates, it focuses on an insect that was a common nuisance in the Elizabethan Period - the flea - and turns it into a sexual metaphor.

That such an irritating creature could be used to such good effect is a poetic Triumph but it's still not certain that, for all of Donne's wit and 'ribald humour', The speaker succeeded in his sexual conquest.

This poem is all about a woman's denial and the argument used by the speaker to Overcome that and persuade her to make love to him.

In Elizabethan England, it was very much the thing for poets to use a conceit, an Argument, an extended metaphor. In this case, a flea and love's consummation.

John Donne wrote this poem when he was a young man, training to be a lawyer, Many scholars think that it was written to impress his male friends. Later on in his Life, Donne became seriously involved in religion, eventually ending up as dean Of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, in 1621. This poem wasn't published until 1633, Two years after Donne's death.

The Flea is structured to mirror the three protagonists - flea, man and woman, so There are three rhyming couplets and a triplet in each stanza and three stanzas.

In the first stanza the speaker is logical and uses mostly plain, positive language To highlight the flea's actions. The second stanza develops the argument by Introducing religious and theological imagery and language. This boosts the Flea's importance. In the third stanza, the speaker, aware that she has killed the Flea, is close to admitting defeat.

The last three rhyming lines of each stanza cleverly strengthen and clarify the Points made in the previous six lines.

This logical set up underpins the whole argument, whilst the relatively complex Syntax.

Metrically this poem has an iambic base. The lines alternate, octosyllabic and Decasyllabic resulting in tetrameter and pentameter respectively.

A classic of its type, The Flea, with psychological and theological elements, raises Serious sexual and moral questions but does so in a darkly, playful manner.

He uses a conceit to try and win her over. With their blood mingled now in the Flea and the act being totally innocent, it is better not to kill it because that would Be sacrilege.

When the woman does kill the flea, with her nail, he appears to admit that she’ Has won the game. But, in the last three lines he tries to turn the flea's death to His advantage by claiming it is of no real consequence, just as is losing one's Virginity.

The Flea has a rhyme scheme of aabbccddd.

Each stanza is made up of three couplets of rhyming pairs plus a rhyming triplet, Making a total of 9 lines per stanza and 27 in total. Full rhyme bonds together Meaning.

Most of the rhymes are full, for example: thee/be...Said/maidenhead...Woo/two/ Do. There are subtle half-rhymes in lines 10/11 and 19/20 : spare/are...Since/ Innocence. And the internal rhymes in lines 4 and 21:
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be; Wherein could this flea guilty be.

The Flea contains strong religious imagery in the second stanza. The speaker, Having temporarily stopped his would be female lover from killing the flea - Oh Stay - says they 'more than married are'.


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