Language and tone in Going to Bed

Puns and innuendoes

The tone of Going to Bed is joking yet passionate, or at least, intense and energetic. As usual, Donne is full of arguments, and he strings these along in an amusing commentary. Given the topic, the language is bound to be full of sexual innuendo and puns.Childbirth features in ‘Until I labour, I in labour lie', where the second ‘labour' means being in the agony/anticipation of childbirth, waiting for the birth to happen. This links up with the ‘Midwife' at the end, neatly tying the poem up.

The sexual innuendo of ‘tir'd with standing', ‘still can stand', and ‘flesh upright' is obvious, as are the roving hands in all their directions.

There is some attempt to make the language sensual in a way not usual with Donne: the softness of the lines 16-20, and the nature image going with ‘beautious state', for example.

Investigating Going to Bed
  • Consider the language and tone of Going to Bed
    • Does the opening suggest some impatience or frustration?
    • How much of the tone suggests that Donne is really in the situation?
    • Or is this a dramatic representation going on in his imagination?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.