TO HIS MISTRESS GOING TO BED

25 March 2003

Some things never change — human nature is obviously like that. Can you believe this poem is so old? This was a favourite for me at school because it made the girls (and the teacher) blush and fluster! Ah! Adolescence!
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 he 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 stopt there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you, that now is 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 flowry 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 hallow’d temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be
Receiv’d by men; thou Angel bring’st with thee
A heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and through
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.
Licence 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 mann’d,
My Mine of precious stones, My Empery,
How blest am I in discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.

To his Mistress Going to Bed’ John Donne (1572-1631)

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