Contemporary art is what amazes sophisticated viewers and readers a lot. As such, it is remarkable to dive into the past centuries’ creative works in order o see how everything has changed since then. Taking poems of John Donne The Flea and Nickelback’s Animals would be a nice example to unveil the contrast between the seventeenth-century poetry about sex and seduction to the twenty-first-century one. The ways of lust expression of XVII century poet differ from ones of XXI century songwriter; however, both of them encourage premarital sex with the narrator in two poems, although articulating completely different metaphors and epithets that reflect the times authors belong to.
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Animals versus The Flea
It is remarkable that the poem The Flea expresses the most intimate kind of relations between and woman and a man but you do not really get it until the middle of the poem, whereas the variant of song lyrics Animals pints that out right away (the name of the song speaks for itself). Although this might seem vulgar and inappropriate, it must be noted that the seventeenth-century poet John Donne dared to showcase the poems that were deemed to be extremely erotic. Now, when reading him The Flea we do not possibly consider it to be so extraordinary and indecent, though times change. Therefore, who knows, maybe in hundred years Nickelback’s “But I got both hands on the wheel while you got both hands on my gears” (Nickelback 25). Significantly, the poet and the singer-songwriter talk about the same exact thing – a failed attempt to make love.
Different Wording about Similar Subject
What makes the poem and the song lyrics so different is the textual content, largely varying due to the different times and respective technological development. This is extremely interesting to read the epithets of a contemporary poet and the one living four hundred years ago about the same exact act coitus: “This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is” (Stallworthy 3, line 13) and “So come on baby, get in we’re just a couple of animals; get in, just get in” (Nickelback 17). Evidently, John Donne tried to persuade the thought that sex was a path to marriage and the conceit (flea) was the one to bite both of them and, therefore, link them together somehow when their blood mixed together, whereas modern poetry reflects nothing but a short act of love with no real continuation. Donne’s flea is very interesting and gross at the same time but it, apparently, reflects the times of dysentery as a feature of the seventeenth century. As such, Nickelback could not but involve a feature of the twenty-first-century’ technology – an automobile. His car is the one to bring the lovers together: “I got the car door opened up so you can jump in on the run” (Nickelback 7) but not as romantic and imaginary as the flea that is supposed to unite the heroes through bites.
True Meanings Unchanged
Both authors tend to establish a sexual union with their partner and both of them fail. Significantly, the two lyrics give a clear sense of the intentions of the narrators – to seduce for the sake of sex by saying it is okay and they are not doing anything wrong: “A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead” (Stalworthy 3, line 6), so does Nickel back in his poem: “Ain’t nothing wrong with it” (Nickelback 12). However, the two stories end up in a failure to the authors, though because of different circumstances. In Animals, the hero does not get to finish what was started due to the heroine’s dad busting them in the car. In The Flea the heroine rejects the attempts of seduction herself by killing the flea. This is very interesting and funny disambiguation because the man evidently gets all his dreams crashed with the flea being smacked. Nevertheless, the contemporary lady seems to be more responsive, though her dad does not.
In a word, the two poets are pursuing the same exact thought of getting a woman to sleep with a man before marriage for the sake of pleasing physical demands. The authors lived in a gap of four centuries which gives us a clear understanding that the thoughts of humans never actually changed. What did change are the circumstances: the surroundings, technical devices, and morals. It is surprising to find the lines by Donne to be erotic nowadays when indecent images happen to be everywhere. Nevertheless, he was a metaphysical poet and did not even dare to publish The Flea – he distributed it widely among people (Perry 35). The lyrics we discussed have two different forms of expressing the desire to have intimate relations with a woman which is caused by the different social standards and morals of the authors. The narrators coax women to have sex, one does it directly because the twenty-first century is straightforward, the other persuades that having blood mixed in a flea is innocent and, hence, premarital sex is innocent, as well. Overall, the intentions are similar – the ways are different.
Nickelback. “Animals.” All the Right Reasons. Mountainview Studios, 2005. Radio Single.
Perry, Anthony, T. Erotic Spirituality: The Integrative Tradition from Leone Ebreo to John Donne. Montgomery: The University of Alabama Press, 1980. Print.
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Stallworthy, John. A Book of Love Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Print.