How would you summarize and analyze John Donne's "To His Mistress Going To Bed"?   

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ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his elegy, "To His Mistress Going To Bed," John Donne depicts a woman undressing.  The first twenty lines illustrate this process, from the point at which she takes off her girdle, her breastplate, her busk, and her coronet, to her putting on her white gown.  After the first twenty lines, Donne explores the woman's body, invoking images of a "new-found land."  The elegy ends with the two of them going to bed.

More than the narrative aspect of the elegy, Donne provides the reader with a great deal of imagery particularly relevant to the period in which the poem was written (1635).  Donne uses the image of conquest throughout the poem, comparing the woman's body to an empire and again as an "America" to be discovered.  When Donne wrote this poem, the New World was only recently colonized (1607 marking the date of the first permanent settlement), and the Age of Exploration was at its height.  While poets often use the image of conquest when it comes to depicting relations between a man and a woman, many of Donne's references are very specific, stemming directly from the period of the poem's creation.