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Sex Without Love

Sharon Olds

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exquisite poem
Added by: Barbara
I'm a woman of Sharon Old's generation who stumbled upon this wedsite.

I'm astonished by readers' misunderstanding of this fine poem. Olds is not making a statement about the disadvantages or evils of premarital sex. She is not making a statement about men's take on sex vs women's take on sex. The line with the repetition of the words "come to the" is not an expression of confusion or whatever; it is a verbal rendition of a certain kind of orgasm. I guess a reader who has never experienced an orgasm might miss that. But, gee, such a tender reader should probably be holding off on explicating a poem in a public forum, don't you think?

This is an astonishinly true and beautiful poem with nothing whatsoever to do with puritanical mores or anti-sex ideas. Sharon Olds, poet, mother, truth-teller, teacher -- long may you wave. Give us more.
Added by: melanie
you guys are amazingly misreading this. get off the puritan american high horse and realize that we are in a postmodern era-- there are no more value judgements. shes not making a value judgement, its all about transcending that and realizing that we are truly alone in this world and sex can be a means of finding OURSELVES not someone else. the idea of love or sex is all that matters, not who it is or in what context. it all comes back to how it changes us, the race is between us, as she elaborates in the beautiful runner metaphor. shut up about all the stupid abstinence, wait until marriage stuff- thats a very immature reading of this, this is far more metaphysical than that.
Added by: Magdalina
This poem's centrality is sex duh obvious. But there's a great deal of thought put into it. The lines read as if they are actually doing it themselves. The come to the come to the God come.... represents a climax. You see it starts of calmly than it gets rougher. Than they finish but after they finish the poem reflects on loneliness that these people feel because they are using sex to get to love this messiah but they love the sex(the priest) and not the god (their partner). The poem's wonderful but i think people need to put aside their personal beliefs and see the poem for what it really is
Added by: Helen Hoepfner
If you can't respect this work's messege you should at least respect her imagery and command of the language. This poem is one of my all time favorites. There is just something about the line "How do they come to the come to the come to the God". It's beautiful.
comments posted on yonder site
Added by: tyler james
i've read the comments, rants, and rebuttles on this forum and i am very entertained. many people seem to have opinions. i have some too. i'm willing to wager that everyones' comment is as valid as everyone elses'. our guesses as to Olds' opinions and intentions while writing this poem may be less or more correct, however. but the validaty of our opinons is equal. let us consider the roll that poetry plays.. it seems to me to be inherently interprative. (especially olds' style) meaning that part of the poem is the interpretation of the reader. what olds was thinking/feeing while writting this poem does not neccessarilly (don't mind my spelling) tranfer clearly to the reader upon glancing her words. i greatly suspect that she would admit this herself. lets agrree that she did not write an essay. she did not have a thesis statement. she wrote a poem. read it and take fromit what you will, or read it looking for a clear rounded quotable point, and read it in despair. have opinions if you will, of course, but especially when it comes to poetry...."to each his own."

i'm twenty-one. i read this for english class. i'm not spending millions on my education... i'm not inmensa..but this seems clear to me... anyone dissagree?
Boring poet, that's all.
Added by: Booba the Scooba
Why should we have to respect her command of imagery and language, being that she, in respect to imagery and language, is a complete hack. God/orgasm's been done to death, way before Olds, and should we really applaud a writer with a few well cadenced lines out of hundreds of stunted, prosaic ones. Velvets and Venoms? Please, just nylon velvatine and cough syrup.
Added by: runner
Now I am completely confused. When I read the poem I was positive that Olds was saying that sex without love was a beautiful thing- not "an endless racing to your death" as someone posted earlier, but comparative to the purity and isolation of running. Saying that your partner in sex is peripheral to the act of sex in the same way that shoes & cold & pavement are peripheral to the act of running. As a runner, there is a joy in running for the sake of running and this is the imagery that I supposed the poet to be using. But several people have posted to the effect that they think the poet is against sex without love, or that the poem somehow advocates a deeper relationship rather than a casual but beautiful act- I do not understand where this view is coming from at all- can someone please explain?
Added by: Robert
You do read English...right? Not english.
Added by: Sarah
In this poem, I think it's asking how it is possible for two people to have sex, which is such a sacred act and reflection of love, and not love their partner. The poem concludes that the person is completely separated emotionally from sex, and it becomes just an action, like running. It's exercise. So while two people are experiencing an intimate moment, they are completely isolated. The other person is just a factor, a necessary thing, like the road the person is jogging on.
Added by: anonymous
This is a beautiful poem that examines the complexity of sex and love. Why does everyone read it so literally? Some of these responses make me so sad. Olds is not saying we should all wait to get married to have sex, or saying that people who have sex without love are emotionally vacant. I think she's just trying to figure out how a person can "make love without love." Maybe she's done it herself and hurt someone; maybe she's been hurt by someone she loved, who used her for sex. Who knows. Maybe she just realizes we're all alone and she doesn't know what to make of that, like most people.

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