Thursday, July 20, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's PT prompt is about sex...For me, this relates to the topic of personal poetry we discussed a few weeks ago. In part, I've refrained from writing sex poetry out of a fear that one day my parents would come across it! Coming from a strict British and Catholic upbringing, sex was never discussed much in our family. I know it seems silly but that's essentially it.

Here, then, is someone else's sex poem that I first encountered in first year English in University. Having studied in a strict Catholic high school, we hadn't read much (if any) sex poetry (and if we did, we quickly glossed over it...ah, the repression of Catholic highschool!). So when our lit prof introduced us to John Donne's "The Flea", I couldn't believe that someone in the 17th century (a former priest, no less) had written such a raunchy poem. Yes, I was incredibly naive until I arrived in university!

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks hee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
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.

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 are met,
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
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thouh triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thy self nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much nonor, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

- John Donne (1633)


*edit: I've since had the opportunity to read many other PT posts, and it seems I am not the only one who feels a little shy...


twitches said...

I always loved this poem. It had the same effect on me - I'd never realized a poem about sex could be so old. Little did I know...

jenclair said...

Ha! I considered using this one. I love John Donne!

pepektheassassin said...

ceebie, would you believe I have lived, well, *mumble mumble* years, and NEVER read this poem until now?

I am so embarrassed....

Thank you. (I can't even blame my strict Mormon upbringing for this oversight.)

January said...

A great poem. Haven't read Donne in a while so thanks for posting this gem.

Libra Moon Goddess said...

I response to your post Ceebie...

Lava Lamps are erotic to look into while Bodies Tango...

Libra Moon

Tammy said...

WOW I can't believe a priest wrote this :) I must check out his other stuff. I'm very new to poerty. Thanks for stopping by and being so kind :)

ecm said...

Great poem! John Donne is not who first jumps to mind when I think of a sex poem. Who knew?

Ceebie said...

Thanks, all. I have fond memories of sitting in Professor Child's class and chuckling to myself about it...I'm glad I'm not the only one who was surprised by this poem!