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Visitors' Comments about:

The Pope's Penis

Sharon Olds

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In response to Red's post.
Added by: Nikki
I greatly appreciated the fact that you pointed out all of the symbolism represented in the eleged 'penis'. I myself am a fan of poetry, and by the standards of most, have a tendancy to 'over analyze'. The truth is, I've never really seen the 'simple answers' as others have seen them. An example being this poem. "The pope is still a man, with a penis"... That may be true enough, but evey poem has more to it than what is directly stated. In fact, you'll find this to be true in almost ALL literature. Rarely is anything stated literally. Take our beloved Bible, for instance. How much of that is actually literal, and how much is left to be interpreted by historical documentation and such? In any case, I greatly appreciated your comments, Red, and I thank you for pointing out that there is more than one way to 'read' a poem.


red's arrogance
Added by: eric
Your arrogance is astounding. How dare you mock or belittle somebody's ideas, especially when you have such horrible grammar and punctuation. Look up the comma splice and the run on, eh? While your analysis is thorough, your delivery undermines any intelligence that it may contain. When you see an explication that is undeveloped, why not approach softly insead of scorching? Breathe, man--you're not the best or the only.
Added by: Missy
I understand that maybe you took much more out of the poem than any of the previous readers, and that you were surprised--
to find that they hadn't understood the great and glorious true meaning of a well-written short piece that was, so obviousslyyy, about so many detailed and methodical points, but honestly. Do you really have to demean other people for not seeing what you see? Some people see the pope's penis in the poem. Not the analysis of some winded fervent fanatic.

Their points are as valid as yours, and should [have been] treated that way.
Added by: Cat
True, every poem leaves room for interpretation. Red's thorough description was one of the better ones I have seen in my time. As for you Eric, I think you should take your own advice and consider that you are also not "the best or the only." As for grammar, punctuation, and form...it's not a formal essay so it can be formulated in whichever way the person wishes.
By the way..."the explication" would be unDERdeveloped, not undeveloped. Perhaps you should spend some time studying up on the English language yourself.
pope by olds
Added by: trina
eric - i agree, red does not choose the most modest voice but he does have a lot to say, don't you think?
when I read the preceding comments, i realized they're not actually talking about the poem itself and was therefore grateful to red for his -- to me -- illuminating comments.
Added by: Michael
If I read correctly it is saying he is masturbathing (an allusion from the last two lines). Well, good for him.
Added by: Dekkah
Why don't you shut-up! The fact is the man is on point and gave an education to the fools on here...say thank you instead of all the BS about his writing style and grammar.
Added by: Sharon Youngs

I read your analysis, and I don't deny that the poem has a deeper meaning. However, I believe that you overanalyze it and give Olds, who is a second-rate thinker at best, far too much credit.

The poem is simply more anti-Catholic drivel; it is a commentary on what the libertines are wont to call the "sexual repression" the Church represents (Just so you know, Church teaching simply serves to place human sexuality in its proper context).

Moreover, the poem is completely improper and reveals the writer for the effete, depraved pseudo-intellectual she is.

Lastly, the other poster is correct, Red, your grammar and punctuation leave much to be desired. You just seem like an intellectual wannabe exalting someone who, because of your limited capacity, you don't recognize as the pseudo-intellectual she is.
Olds' explanation
Added by: Marie
While you did a great job trying to belittle everyone who posted a comment before you, Sharon Olds seems to support their readings rather than yours. From an interview in Salon Magazine:

"It's a poem I didn't get for a long time. I didn't ask myself: Why do you feel okay about teasing this stranger? Why do you think that's okay? I was just so startled when I noticed that this particular Pope was also a man. And I thought: Well, that means .... [trails off]. And I just began musing on The Other, in a way. This man, the Pope, seemed to feel that he knew a lot about women and could make decisions for us -- various decisions about whether we could be priests or not, and who would decide whether we could have an abortion or not. He had crossed our line so far -- this is according to my outsider's point of view -- that hey, what's a little flirtatious poem that went across his line somewhat?"
-Sharon Olds
I totally agree with Eric
Added by: Christine
Red, I have a poem for you:

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


I think this definitely applies to you. While it's all well in good that you want to read way far into the poem and torture a confession out of it, who are you to say that the poem is NOT expressing how the pope is a man like everyone else? Or that she didn't write it because she found it funny? Yes, I agree with assertions such as Sharon Olds intentionally used irony when she compared his penis to a clapper and a bell, but who are YOU to belittle the interpretations of others? Just because you can ramble on about the "deeper meaning" of a poem doesn't mean you're right. You did not right this poem. Beat the poem with a hose if you want to, but don't chastize those who want to waterski over its surface.

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