« Wednesday links | Main | Loving the bookish and the cool »

October 07, 2004



I love that poem--I first read it in high school and it struck a chord with me. Thanks for reminding me.


It's new to me! Another lovely choice of verse, Hugo. Hope you have a great weekend.


Pretty words covering up a false dichotomy--the assumption that it's either love or total indifference.


Thanks for posting this, Hugo. I'd read of Olds, but this poem makes me want to deeply delve into her poetry.


I wouldn't say so, myth. Because some people have sex totally without love doesn't mean that it's not a mixed bag for others....

I think the imagery is lovely.


Amanda, of course it's a mixed bag for some. That doesn't mean it's a mixed bag, a tragedy, or a sterile and hollow and lonely interaction etc. etc. for others.

The imagery is lovely; I'm just not one for ignoring meaning or message because it's said prettily.


I guess I would feel differently if I thought the poem was actually judging those who have sex without any love whatsoever, but I don't get that. I mean, Hugo's intro clearly implies that, but I've read this poem a number of times before and thought her point was she was in awe of them, that they had transcended the dirty business of love.

Chloe Brody

this poem makes me sad...i'm always talking about "fucking" and i usually want to get w/ a guy to have sex even if i don't know him. i haven't actually done that but i just think about it. and, this poem makes me think of how pathetic i am to want "sex w/out love" because in reality...i do want love...


Well, that's the great thing about poems--there's not always a One True Meaning. :)

Chloe, wanting love and wanting sex doesn't mean you always want both of those things at the same time.


Gosh, Amanda, you and I are living proof that poems speak differently to different people.

I think it's less awe than bewilderment. Read the rest of Olds stuff -- she is intensely oriented towards the body, but also towards the body as an instrument for connecting with others.

Great runners sacrifice their families and relationships in order to log more miles. I don't think Olds idealizes that, either -- I think the question she is posing is simply "How can you do something so fundamentally intimate without feeling a real connection to the person you are doing it with?"

Or, I could be seeing this through my own biased glasses!


I have read a lot of her stuff, Hugo--my degree is in literature. I think her relationship to physicality is ambigious. But I wouldn't say this poem is so straightforward as that. After all, are awe and bewildermend so very different?


I think they are, Amanda; awe (to me) implies admiration -- bewilderment implies incomprehension. Those are quite different, in my book.

I'm glad you like Olds. There is no one quite like her.


Now see we are treading on dangerous territory here--these are exactly the ambiguities that poetry can tease out of us. Most of us have more mixed feelings when it comes to the pure physicality of love-making than we'd like to admit to. More than anything, I think that Olds messes with that part of our minds.

Good poets don't have clean messages. Good poets extract discomfort out of us and make us question ourselves.


Never, Amanda, have I agreed with you more.


I absolutely love Olds' Sex Without Love! I first read it during my Junior year in college. It touches my heart every time I read it. Thanks for posting it.


Or, I could be seeing this through my own biased glasses!

Well, yes. Since you're treating the lack of love as equal to no real connection.

Amanda, I agree with you about poetry in general, but it really sounds like what you're saying is that if one disagrees with Hugo's interpretation, it's because one is defensively overreacting.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Most of us have more mixed feelings when it comes to the pure physicality of love-making than we'd like to admit to. Meaning from both sides of the "I can/can't have sex without love" fence, right? I remember, in college, on the one hand having very negative feelings toward casual sex for myself, and on the other hand - there was this one woman, who seemed to be able to do it, and I wanted to believe that, after all, for her it worked. That somewhere there was someone who could actually enjoy sex without entanglement.

On the other hand, I've long suspected that at least some people (maybe especially men, who are expected to be horny at the drop of a hat) who claim to be thoroughly able to divorce sex from love (and really do talk as if they mean no real connection at all) may be more ambivalent, from their side, than they want to let on.


I'm kind of disagreeing with his interpretation, too, though. Again, I do find the admiration in the poem to have a genuine side to it.


I think all of you are fucking faggots


But sir, you are the one having intercourse with Billy, as your name makes clear!


Real love is never ambivalent, whether it be the act of being in-love or love-making. People have opions over everything they just don't always feel obligated to share them.


I have recently read this poem and had to compare it with another poem entilted "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe. I had to find a common theme found in both and elavorate on how the authors presents it in each poem. The common theme I found in both was the need for companionship. Both characters are willing to give something of themselfs like their time, body and material things for a little companionship. Tell me what do you think of this?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004