February 8, 2013
“Three Sins in Killing Three”
The seventeenth century saw the creation of the anti-Petrarchan poem. Its purpose was used in a satirical way to make fun of another popular poetic style of the era, the Petrarchan poem. The Petrarchan poem is notorious for glorifying women and portraying them as unrealistic, goddess-like creatures; and so the anti-Petrarchan poem did quite the opposite. “The Flea”, written by John Doe is a perfect example of an anti-Petrarchan poem. “The Flea” is filled with intellectual metaphors, unexpected conceits, and most importantly, sexual imagery (that would never be found in any Petrarchan poem) that compares an unusual subject, a flea, to a sacred act of marriage, and union in the marriage bed. Throughout the poem, it is obvious that the persona wants to get this woman into bed and engage in premarital sex and will stop at nothing to accomplish this feat. He continuously compares the flea to their sexual union while simultaneously attempting to stop the woman from killing the flea.
The persona uses the flea as a conceit for sexual intercourse. He tells her, “It sucked me first and now sucks thee, and in this flea our two bloods mingled be.” That since the flea has bitten both of them; they were, in a sense, united. He then goes on to tell her that there is no sin, shame, or loss in the mixing of his or her blood. Today, the idea of their blood mixing can easily be seen as a metaphor for the mixing of two lover’s bodily fluids during sexual intercourse, when in fact, in the seventeenth century it was a wide spread belief that blood was exchanged during sexual intercourse.
In the second stanza, he even goes as far as to compare the flea to a marriage bed. This shows the humor of the poem by comparing a gruesome pest to a sacred, pure marriage bed. He says, “This flea is you and I, and this our marriage bed and temple is.” This technique of comparing the most unlikely object into an elaborate symbol of love is...
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