This second excursion of The Flea mingles the poetic blood of twelve poets whose works in one way or another match my vision of what poetry which might be described as more or less ‘metaphysical’ might look like if composed in our early twenty-first century context: poetic work in the line of John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, John Webster, Katherine Philips, Ben Jonson, Henry Vaughan, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Carew, Robert Herrick and the like. More recent poets such as T.S. Eliot, William Empson, John Wain, W.H. Auden, John Crowe Ransom, Wallace Stevens, Laura Riding and Robert Graves have written poems which are arguably within this tradition. My mission in presenting The Flea as a series of internet broadsheets is to publish my own selection of this range of poetry as it is being written now.
In this issue you will find meditations on time, death, desire, existence, reality, consciousness (melding into unconsciousness), epistemology, the cosmos and more; and each of these poems represents its subject in a manner which, logically or intuitively, I recognise as resonating with the metaphysical mode. To take just one example: Alfred Nicol’s ‘Against Beauty’, where concepts of extraordinary complexity concerning beauty, time and death are presented through a delicately evanescent lyricism. The line ‘Youth is a cosmetic for the skull’ seems to me to embody precisely the qualities of strikingly unexpected image and challenging, meditative metaphor that can be seen as metaphysical.
The first issue of The Flea had fourteen poems, and the number in this second issue is reduced to twelve: but not from any want of worthy submissions; rather from my obsessive determination to produce a very concentrated selection. I thank those poets who have sent in so many fine poems for me to choose from. My special thanks go to Rhina P. Espaillat, who has been a true friend to The Flea. This Flea the Second is dedicated to Mr. Timothy Murphy by your Editor, who wisheth that Mr. Murphy's Health, Spirit & Muse may soon be restor’d.