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    John Donne - To His Mistress Going To Bed

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    John Donne - To His Mistress Going To Bed - Elegy 19 - Read by Jasper Britton

    To His Mistress Going To Bed
    Elegy 19
    by John Donne (1572-1631)

    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 breast-plate, 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, whom I envy
    That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
    Your gown's going off such beauteous state reveals
    As when from flowery meads th'hills shadow steals.
    Off with your wiry coronet and show
    The hairy diadem which on you doth grow.
    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:
    They set out hairs, but these the flesh upright.

    License my roving hands, and let them go
    Behind before, above, between, below.
    Oh 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 as 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 need'st thou have more covering than a man.