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In the poem, 'To His Mistress Going to Bed,' John Donne, in the form of first person dialogue, uses various themes and extended metaphors to illustrate the seductive, witty events occurring

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English Commentary Elegy XX - To His Mistress Going to Bed by John Donne In the poem, 'To His Mistress Going to Bed,' John Donne, in the form of first person dialogue, uses various themes and extended metaphors to illustrate the seductive, witty events occurring between the speaker and his mistress. The metaphysical nature of the themes and imagery introduces a lot of complex ideas, parallelism, and concentrated language within the poem. Such themes are revolved around the events of the poem. The mistress is 'willingly' stripping nude for the speaker and is doing so in a submissive yet seductive manner, which is powered by a single force of sexual desire. The structure follows a chronological set of events. Each of these events holds a unique image which is linked with the other poem's images through some fundamental themes. Such themes include eroticism, excitement, adventure and pureness, which is illustrated through the many kinds of images used. The poem begins with a seemingly rather colloquial and arrogant tone from the speaker, saying to the woman, "Come, all rest my powers defy; until I labour, I in labour lie." Firstly the exclamation to the woman creates more demand for attention which compels the reader to continue. ...read more.


off with your hose and shoes." The use of "off with" has the connotation of being rather authoritative yet its fourth repetition makes it flow with the language more, and thus, flow with the relationship that is between the man and the woman. This is also supported by the iambic pentameter utilized by Donne. Moreover with structure, the poem's flow isn't fragmented because the entire 48 line poem is a single stanza. The language and imagery transitions into religious imagery. The 'bed' is compared to their love's "hallow'd temple" whilst she one of "heaven's angels" in "white robes." The introduction of religious and heavenly imagery suggests that the events occurring is a real-time fantasy, however, it also introduces the idea of purity; purity in the soul which is correlated to the purity of the body, nakedness. In developing this image, the "heaven" is compared with "Mahomet's paradise" which is the religious idea that reaching heaven offer 72 virgins. Although, this is all seemingly charming and appropriate, it is definitely blasphemous because Donne is using comparing religious imagery to eroticism. Furthermore, he refers to "Mahomet's paradise" which is a non-Christian belief. The poem develops deeper into the poem's sexual events. The speaker requests "license for [his] roving hands... ...read more.


He elevates himself above other men in recognizing this and is able to satisfy his libido. He similarly elevates the figure of the woman stating that they are "mystic books" but since his almost God-given "imputed grace" is dignified, he is given the ability to see her "reveal'd." Due to this complex sequence of logic, there is nothing sinful about the act so "there is no penance due to innocence." The last two lines is in contrast a significantly, simpler conceit in the idea of reciprocity: "To teach thee, I am naked first" and then asks "what needst thou have move covering than a man?" The use of 'teach' induces the idea of an erotic teacher-student relationship that revolves around authoritativeness and submissiveness which is a common theme in the poem. Due to the structure and language throughout the poem, the strange logic seems to make sense. The ending with a rhetorical question also suggests that the answer is obvious which is that the woman should have less covering than the man. Donne is able convey the themes of this poem through many various forms of imagery, and even allows himself to express his conceits in a complex, yet logical manner which remains humorous for the reader. The progression of the removal of her clothes corresponds directly with the developing imageries of the poem. Donne delivers an ingenious elegy which really highlights the true qualities of metaphysical poetry. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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