In John Donne’s “The Flea” and Andrew Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress”, both of the narrators (men) address their virgin lovers. Both poems are animated attempts by the male to seduce his virgin love before they marry. Donne uses the flea in a symbolic way to represent the combining of the two lovers’ blood in the tiny body of the flea “It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee, And in this flea our two bloods mingled be” (3-4).
He argues that if it can mingle and become one in this flea, then surely there is no harm in their union. When she tries to kill the flea, he becomes more intense and romantic about their binding love contained within the small life and pleads for its salvation, “holding it up as “our marriage bed and marriage temple”” (“The Flea”). While witty and humorous, the poem almost seems trifling. The flea is not a romantic creature and it is hard to take this romantic sentiment seriously.
Marvell, on the other hand, uses very romantic notions such as timelessness and death to try to sway the narrator’s lover to bed.
“The argument of the poem is straightforward” (Wikipedia). He first cries out his never ending love and timeless devotion to his lover, promising to wait “An age at least to every part” (16). However, he then tries a more straightforward pleading, informing his lover that although he most certainly would wait ages for her, they are mortals and will one day die. He would rather enjoy her “while the youthful hue Sits on they skin like morning dew” (33-34). Marvell presents the more intriguing and romantic argument for his suitor.
- Donne, John. “The Flea”. http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/flea.php. Accessed 17 March 2007.
- Marvell, Andrew. “To his Coy Mistress”. http://luminarium.org/sevenlit/marvell/coy.htm. Accessed 17 March 2007.
- “The Flea”. http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/donne/section3.rhtml. Accessed 10 March 2007.
- Wikipedia. “To His Coy Mistress” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_His_Coy_Mistress. Accessed 10 March 2007.
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