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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

1:57 min read
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John Donne

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

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