Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Poetry Project

I always think of these two verses together. The first one, Madrigal, is anonymous, but the second one, To His Mistress Going to Bed (which is a longer one), is written by an author who is also well-known for writing religious work. I love these two poems because they prove that, in four centuries, guys really haven't changed all that much. It appears they have been randy little weasels since at least the 1600s. (I feel a slogan coming on - Men. Trying to get into your pants since at least the 1600s.)


My love in her attire doth show her wit,
It doth so well become her;
For every season she hath dressings fit,
For winter, spring, and summer.
No beauty she doth miss
When all her robes are on;
But beauty's self she is
When all her robes are gone.

Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed
by John Donne

Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labor, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
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 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 your 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
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,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
License 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 manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blest am I in thus discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul 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 like Atalanta'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 array'd;
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see revealed. Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to a midwife show
Thyself; 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?


Erin M. said...

lol---I do recall discussing the latter in Dr. Miller's class (Shakespeare, Donne & Milton, I think?) and I may have even blushed. a-hem. I think I'm blushing even now after re-reading it.

Nicole Bradshaw said...

Pretty steamy stuff, no?