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Metaphysical Poetry The Flea By John Donne Metaphysical Poetry- Definition(1)

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metaphysical poetry

Metaphysical Poetry

The Flea

By John Donne

metaphysical poetry definition 1
Metaphysical Poetry- Definition(1)
  • By itself, metaphysicalmeans dealing with the relationship between spirit to matter or the ultimate nature of reality. The Metaphysical poets are obviously not the only poets to deal with this subject matter, so there are a number of other qualities involved as well: 
  • Use of ordinary speech mixed with puns, paradoxes and conceits (a paradoxical metaphor causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of the objects compared; some examples: lovers and a compass, the soul and timber, the body and mind)
metaphysical poetry definition 2
Metaphysical Poetry- Definition (2)
  • The exaltation of wit, which in the 17th century meant a nimbleness of thought; a sense of fancy (imagination of a fantastic or whimsical nature); and originality in figures of speech
  • Abstruse terminology often drawn from science or law
  • Often poems are presented in the form of an argument
  • In love poetry, the metaphysical poets often draw on ideas from Renaissance Neo-Platonism to show the relationship between the soul and body and the union of lovers' souls
  • They also try to show a psychological realism when describing the tensions of love.
metaphysical poetry platonic love 1
Metaphysical Poetry – Platonic Love(1)
  •   During the Renaissance, Plato got mingled with Christian and Eastern thought. Through this mingling we get  Platonic love (which is a lot more than you probably think it means). For Plato, beauty proceeds in a series of steps from the love of one beautiful body to that of two, to the love of physical beauty in general, and ultimately to the love of that beauty "not in the likeness of a face or hands or in the forms of speech or knowledge or animal or particular thing in time or place, but beauty absolute, separate, simple, everlasting--the source and cause of all that perishing beauty of all other things."
  • When this scheme is Christianized by equating this ultimate beauty with the Divine Beauty of God, the Renaissance Platonic lover can move in stages through the desire for his mistress, whose beauty he recognizes as an emanation of God's, to the worship of the Divine itself. 
metaphysical poetry platonic love 2
Metaphysical Poetry- Platonic Love(2)
  • This complex doctrine of love which embraces sexuality (the mystical union of souls, cf. Donne's "The Canonization") but which is directed to an ideal end (discussed in Plato's Symposium) is particularly evident in Donne. (But we see it in poets from Sidney to Lawrence). 
  • Platonic love has also come to mean a love between individuals which transcends sexual desire and attains spiritual heights (for examples, see some of the courtly romances like Tennyson's Idylls of the King), as well as homosexual love (see Forster's Maurice), derived from the praise of homosexual love in The Symposium. 
the flea

The Flea

By John Donne

john donne biography
John Donne- Biography

->born in Bread Street in 1572 to a prosperous Roman Catholic family

->1593 his brother, Henry died of a fever in prison after arrested for giving sanctuary to a proscribed catholic priest. Donne began to have doubts in his faith.

-> 1601 secretly married Lady Egerton’s niece, seventeen-year-old Anne More, daughter of Sir George More

->1611 Donne was invited and joined Sir Robert Drury to the continental trip. It was then Donne composed several of his most prominent poems. “A Valediction: Forbidden Mouring”

john donne biography 2
John Donne- Biography (2)

->1617 Donne’s wife died. Within 16 years, she gave him 12 children.

->1631 Donne died of serious illness.

john donne writing style
John Donne- Writing Style

Donne’s work were famous for the themes if his faith in God and women. Though not writing with conventional glamorous style of verse like the Petrachan style, Donne successfully and beautifully connect the time and space in his poems with extraordinary images. Donne’s usage of diction and language in composing his work is considered revolutionary of his time. His style is regarded as “metaphysical” in the modern study of poem.

the flea main idea
The Flea- Main Idea

“The Flea” is a poem about class distinction, marriage and struggle between religion conception and physical needs.

Please Welcome Joey! To give reading to this Poem (Applause!)

explanation and analysis marriage and class distinction
Explanation and Analysis- Marriage and Class Distinction
  • this is a poem about an unblessed marriage
  • class distinction, the two “blood” mixed together (stanza one, line4~6)
  • used the flea as a metaphor of connection of their (fragile) marriage (stanza two, line 3~4)
  • deeply related to religious concepts. Ex. When he talks about his wife, that if she kills the flea, that she would be commit three crimes of marriage.
  • flea as the metaphor of a fragile marriage. Because it would be easily destroyed.
  • THE change of mind: after his wife squeezed the flea, he thinks that there is no loss for her to marry him (stanza 3.)
explanation and analysis religion and sex
Explanation and Analysis-Religion and Sex
  • The poem that reflects the change of era- the conservative, religious value v.s. the new values that comes with religion.
  • He prefers the blood mingled together as a connection rather than sexual intercourse, which he thinks is a sin.

你儂我儂 元 管道昇

「 你 儂 我 儂 , 忒 煞 情 多 ;

情 多 處 , 熱 如 火 ;

把 一 塊 泥 , 捻 一 個 你 , 塑 一 個 我 ,

將 咱 兩 個 一 齊 打 破 ,

用 水 調 和 ; 再 捻 一 個 你 , 再 塑 一 個我 。

我 泥 中 有 你 , 你 泥 中 有 我 。

我 與 你 生 同 一 個 衾 , 死 同 一 個 槨 。 」

explanation and analysis 1
你儂我儂- Explanation and Analysis(1)
  • This poem was written by a woman named管道昇 in元 Dynasty. She wrote this poem in order to stop her husband 趙夢頻 from marrying a concubine.
  • The first two sentences, the writer describes how deep they love each other and what a great passion between them. 儂 is a pronoun. It represent “You” or “I “, thus, 你 儂 我 儂 means “I am you and you are me. We love each other very much so that we do not have to distinguish who we are, because we are together, our hearts and minds unitize together.
explanation and analysis 2
你儂我儂- Explanation and Analysis(2)
  • She compares their passionate love to fire. She uses fire to create a vivid image. Then, the writer uses soil to give a more vivid image to confirm their everlasting love. From the third sentence, use soil to knead a you and knead an I. Then, break us up together and mix up with water. Re kneads a you and re kneads an I. In this way, I have you and you could have me. In the last sentence, the writer confirms their permanent love that no matter live or die, they will be together for all eternity.
the song
你儂我儂- The Song



the music


Please enjoy listening to this song:

你儂我儂 sung by 包娜娜

similarities the flea
Similarities – The Flea&你儂我儂
  • Both two poems focused on the mingling:
  • The flea---flea “It sucked me first, and now sucks thee, And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;”
  • 你儂我儂---the soil “把一塊泥,捻一個你,塑一個我,將咱兩個一齊打破,用水調和;再捻一個你,再塑一個我。我泥中有你,你泥中有我。”
comparison structure
The Flea

The rhyme scheme in each stanza is similarly regular, in couplets, with the final line rhyming with the final couplet: AABBCCDDD.

Three stanzas in total which are also three ideas in progress.

The stress pattern in each of the nine-line stanzas is 454545455

This poem alternates metrically between lines in iambic tetrameter and lines in iambic pentameter.


The whole poem is rhyming withㄛ rhyme.

The whole poem is full of passion.

Comparison- Structure
comparison techniques
The Flea

In the Flea, author divided his idea into three parts which are also the processes of the whole poem. The flea that sucked---the death of the flea---the turning thought about the poet.


There is only one stanza. No obvious processes but strong passion. There seems to be no conflicts in the poem. The idea of never changing until death is what differs from The Flea. The passion of mingling is much stronger than The Flea.

Comparison- Techniques
works cited
Works Cited

Metaphysical Poetry

John Donne

thank you for your participation

Thank You for Your Participation!

Tiffany Lee –intro



Irene –structure

Tiffany Wei