Donne’s “On His Mistress Going to Bed”

In John Donne’s poem “On His Mistress Going to Bed” the speaker lustfully begs his mistress to remove her clothing.  The speaker begins, “off with the girdle” before he unceasingly insists that his mistress take off everything from her bra, hairpins, jewelry, tights, and shoes (line 5).  Unyielding to the speakers requests of “full nakedness” it appears the mistress remains fully clothed at the end of the poem (line 33).  The poem closes with the speaker pointing out that he sits in his own nakedness modeling just what he wants to see from her. 

 Like the mistress in Dunne’s poem, I would have surely remained clothed had a man told me that he wanted to sleep with me in order that he conquer all that I am, delegitimate everything I stood for before sex with him, and promise me many years of hardship and toil should I “accept” his sexual solicitations.   Well, this is not what the speaker said per se, but it is certainly what I read in the lines “O, my America, my Newfoundland/ My kingdom, safest when one man mann’d”   (lines 27-28).   In these lines, the speaker uses the discovery of America in an excited metaphor to express his elation at the discovering his mistress’ naked body, her sex, and the control he will have as the captain of her body. 

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