To His Mistress Going to Bed

John Donne 1572 (London) – 1631 (London)

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
          Until I labour, I in labour lie.
     The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
  Is tired with standing though they never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glistering,
        But a far fairer world encompassing.
  Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
 That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
     Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
  Tells me from you, that now 'tis your bed time.
      Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
  That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
 Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
        Off with that wiry coronet and show
      The hairy diadem which on you doth grow;
  Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
   In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.
   In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
   Received by men; thou angel bring'st with thee
    A heaven like Mahomet's paradise; and though
     Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
     By this these angels from an evil sprite,
 Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
      License my roving hands, and let them go
       Before, behind, between, above, below.
          O my America, my new found land,
  My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
       My mine of precious stones, my empery,
     How blessed am I in this discovering thee!
      To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
    Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
      Full nakedness, all joys are due to thee
    As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be,
   To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
   Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in men's views,
     That when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
    His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
  Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
      For laymen, are all women thus arrayed;
     Themselves are mystic books, which only we
       Whom their imputed grace will dignify
     Must see revealed. Then since I may know,
        As liberally, as to a midwife, show
  Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
      Here is no penance, much less innocence.
     To teach thee, I am naked first, why then
  What needst thou have more covering than a man.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:57 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,269
Words 383
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 48

John Donne

John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. more…

All John Donne poems | John Donne Books

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