Wrapping up our Valentine’s Day posts, Mental Floss has a great article detailing the strange role the flea once played in romantic poetry:
The most famous of these poems is The Flea, by John Donne. The poetâ€™s narrator, struggling with a woman who wishes to hold on to her virginity, compares its loss to a fleabite: small and insignificant. When a flea actually does bite them both, he notes that their blood has mingled inside it. He just wants to mingle other bodily fluids anyway, so sex should mean neither sin nor shame nor loss of virginity at this point. Other writers imagined themselves as fleas exploring their loversâ€™ bodies, or bemoaned the fact that they were not fleas able to explore the secrets of a womanâ€™s body without detection.
Fleas were symbols of love outside of poems, too. Some Frenchmen would pluck fleas from their loversâ€™ flesh and keep the insects as petsâ€”it was a way to have a small piece of their beloved with them always. The fleas lived in tiny gold cages worn around the neck and were fed a daily meal of the manâ€™s blood.
Here’s hoping you don’t get bit by any literal “love bugs” this year.
Image via Scurzuzu [Flickr]