Donne, John. 1571/2-1631

Poems, &c. By John Donne, late Dean of St. Pauls. With Elegies On The Author’s Death. To which is added Divers Copies under his own hand, Never before Printed.


London: In the Savoy, Printed by T.N. for Henry Herringman, 1669                $7,500

DSC_0278Octavo, 4.2 x 6.5 inches. Fifth edition. A4, B-Z8, Aa-Dd8. A1 and Dd8 are both blank and present in this copy. This copy is bound in contemporary full mottled calf. It has been sympathetically rebacked with raised bands and gilt title to spine.

This is the last and most complete edition of Donne’s poetry published in the seventeenth century, and the only Restoration printing. Many textual changes were made in this edition, and five new poems were added, including “To His Mistress Going to Bed,” and “O My America! My New-found-land.”
“The poetry of Donne represents a sharp break with that written by his predecessors and most of his contemporaries. Donne’s poetry, is written very largely in conceits— concentrated images which involve an element of dramatic contrast, of strain, or of intellectual difficulty. Donne, not only displays 
his own ingenuity; he may
 see into the nature of the
 world as deeply as the
philosopher. Donne’s
conceits in particular leap 
continually in a restless 
orbit from the personal to 
the cosmic and back
Wing D-1871; Keynes 84; Wither to Prior 291. 1:2


To His Mistress Going to Bed Related Poem Content Details
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.