Themes in Going to Bed


There is something in Going to Bed of the ecstasy of love: the anticipation of sex is exciting, and the celebration of nakedness. There are not, in fact, too many poems in the English language which do this: most poets are more modest than Donne. There is a certain irony that later Donne became a noted clergyman and preacher. No wonder his immediate family were not happy about these early poems being printed soon after his death. The two things that link love and religion in Donne's life are passion and imagery.


The other theme, born out by the imagery, is that of the completeness of the lovers' world. They occupy the same space as they do in The Sunne Rising: the bed in the room. Within that space he is king and she is

  • ‘My kingdom'
  • ‘My Emperie'
  • In the language of post-colonial literature, she is his colony ‘my America!'- one of the first references to that country in English poetry.

Investigating Going to Bed
  • Look at the themes of the ecstasy of love and the completeness of the lovers' world in Going to Bed
    • What words or images suggest these themes?
      • Is there, in fact, any sign of love, or is it all about sex?
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