62 Psaltery & Lyre: Theric Jepson, “Rifflection: ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’ by John Donne”



Rifflection: “To His Mistress Going to Bed” by John Donne

Come, Madam, come—
a cheap joke to start our evening, but jokes
are friend cousins to metaphor and here’s one of those:
my little soldier, your
foe (if you will)
having the foe (o! to battle!) in sight,
Is tired with standing, so make me stand no longer—no shorter—but lie in.

Martial imagery comes easily to me,
raised on the Protestant hymns of war
(Inward, Christian soldier, marching as to war, with nothing save flesh
and promise
going on before.)
and so I smile as I order my compatriot of sleep and “sleep” to
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there—

Now the fools are gone, leaving the fools we may be.

My favorite part is when you take political control and License
my roving hands, and let them go
Behind, before, above, between, below,
Turning you from queen to America, my new found land—
I land, one man, one flag in the soil,
How blessed am I in this discovering thee.

You, America, will dictate the future of coming centuries in a way
still filled with dragons when I signed my name to yours,
a paper bond made ship to spiritual bondage. But!
To enter in these bonds is to be free,
Then where my hand is set my seal shall be.

But why only hands?

Let me seal you mine, with the physical sacrament, for the body
and the spirit are our soul. Full nakedness,
all joys are due to thee,
unclothed must be
to taste whole joys.



Theric Jepson is a Mormon arts gadfly. His own Mormon work appears in all the regular spots (Irreantum, Sunstone, Dialogue) and a few unexpected ones (eg, SF Weekly), and he has published others’ work in volumes such as The Fob Bible, Fire in the Pasture, and Monsters & Mormons. Information on his novel Byuck and other publications, Mormon or not, can be found at thmazing.com

If you would like to submit your work to Psaltery & Lyre, please check out the P&L Submissions Page.