Erotic Friday: John Donne

Here’s today poet from the 16th century: John Donne. Player was laying it downjohn-donne-hires-cropped

John Donne (22 January 1572– 31 March 1631) was an English poet and cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are noted for their strong, sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries. Donne’s style is characterized by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques. His early career was marked by poetry that bore immense knowledge of English society and he met that knowledge with sharp criticism. Another important theme in Donne’s poetry is the idea of true religion, something that he spent much time considering and about which he often theorized. He wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems. He is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits

 

To His Mistress Going to Bed

By John Donne

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 tir’d 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 stopped there.

Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,

Tells me from you, that now it 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 flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.

Off with that wiry Coronet and shew

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

Received by men; Thou Angel bringst 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.

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 Empirie,

How blest 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 uncloth’d 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 lay-men, are all women thus array’d;

Themselves are mystic books, which only we

(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)

Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;

As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew

Thy self: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,

There is no penance due to innocence.

To teach thee, I am naked first; why then

What needst thou have more covering than a man.

 

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