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Sex Without Love Analysis

Author: poem of Sharon Olds Type: poem Views: 19

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How do they do it, the ones who make love

without love?  Beautiful as dancers,

gliding over each other like ice-skaters

over the ice, fingers hooked

inside each other's bodies, faces

red as steak, wine, wet as the

children at birth whose mothers are going to

give them away.  How do they come to the

come to the  come to the  God  come to the

still waters, and not love

the one who came there with them, light

rising slowly as steam off their joined

skin?  These are the true religious,

the purists, the pros, the ones who will not

accept a false Messiah, love the

priest instead of the God.  They do not

mistake the lover for their own pleasure,

they are like great runners: they know they are alone

with the road surface, the cold, the wind,

the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-

vascular health--just factors, like the partner

in the bed, and not the truth, which is the

single body alone in the universe

against its own best time.

Submitted by zenfishsticks


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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This powerful piece is the juxtaposition of the good, bad and ugly; the way of life. A shared choice to engage in a love act to be experienced selfishly is pure audacity and requires strength not weakness, particularly for x (and in their bellies) mothers-to-be who are expected to lovingly embrace not carelessly discard life. I too am amazed, puzzlingly in awe of this oh so hot or rather cold dance and runner's lifestyle that culminates in individual benefit, ??full of love for self?? and without love for the one who helps move you. I say, Love the one that comes with you.

| Posted on 2016-08-18 | by a guest

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Sex without Love is what you receive when you pay for sex. You feel loved but the provider does not love you. How does she do that? That what the poem is about. How can one feel being loved when love is not involved? Or is it? Does love always have to be between two people? Does love not exist when it is not reciprocated?
I'd say, love is personal and you are the one experiencing it. So you love is there. What is missing is the fulfillment of your expectations. You are not loved back after the act. Love was only present at the moment and is gone once you leave the room. You are alone again. Actually both are alone again. Bodies alone in the universe. Alone which means all one. They are complete by themselves their experience of love.

| Posted on 2016-08-06 | by a guest

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The ones who have sex without love, they love sex. They see it for what it can be. A passionate moment between people. They don't need to love each other to get joy from sex. Love and sex are not mutually exclusive. Each person has their own duty to squeeze from it what they will. Having sex does only mean 'I love you' it can just mean 'I love this'. Striving for the rush, loving the rush. come to the rush. love yourself.

| Posted on 2014-10-17 | by a guest

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Love has many different meanings to different people. Love is truly undefined and kindles different emotions in every human being. Today, love and sex are topics that together become a very controversial topic with many question in a society, especially a religious society. Sharon Olds writes her religious point of view in her poem Sex Without Love. the poem quite passionately reveals Olds disgust for casual sex. She asks herself in the poem, how do they do it, the ones who make love without love? Sex without love is presented in this poem as an empty experience without bond, without empathy and the most important feeling for the author of the poem the feeling of love.

| Posted on 2013-04-03 | by a guest

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Eliminate the conventional and middlebrow morality of the above statements, and the absurd extra-textual assertion that a poem needs a biography of the poet to be understood, and a good reader will come to the poem\'s true meaning. She who can have intimate physical relations without the ugly and burdensome weight of cultural or religious or psychological dependence, is a truly independent hero, an athlete, one who can face the toughest tests of endurance with grace and beauty and glorious soltude.

| Posted on 2012-09-11 | by a guest

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I believe Sharon Olds is saying sex is no good without love, and does not understand how \"sex without love\" is right. period, the end.

| Posted on 2012-04-02 | by a guest

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This will mean alot of things to alot of people it just depends on teh way you feel, think and understand. That said what I see is, (not knowing or reading anything else from her) from the opening line she is the type who falls inlove to feel.. Loyal. Also what Im seeing is that the write is or was also hurt maybe by love or life. so what this poem says to me. Is that we all have a choice, or rather a will of how we experience and go threw life. She points out those that are different then herself, She does it in a way as to being open to them and understanding, She doesnt point fingers. Envious, Love isnt and being hurt deffinitely isnt either so the two together is a struggle, This just says that some are free to enjoy without feeling, and perhaps in a way thats probably something to infact envy, But toward the end she goes back to how she feels and makes a valid point, you either choose to share your life with someone or you dont and in that case (opinion only) you are alone. which is stated in such a way possitive way for anyone reading such. It says you are free to love and live how you want. Love without sex is bliss and freeing yet Sex with love though hard is also bliss.

| Posted on 2011-08-12 | by a guest

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i think that readers should read the biography of a poet before analysing their literature. sharon olds was sexually abused while her childhood. due to that reason she wrote a poem sex without love,,how do they do it´´ she is asking how can they do it,if they are not truly in love with someone, we can also assume by reading it,that sex should be only between two person in love ,which is indicating that children abuse is forbidden and sick..how do they do it´

| Posted on 2011-07-03 | by a guest

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The Olds Poem tells the truth. It sound as if it is impossible to have sex without love but people do it make time. Olds was imagining people having sex yet don\'t love each other. This imagination made her wrote this poem. However, the consequences of having sex without love is an unwanted baby as one person talk about it in other post.

| Posted on 2010-11-18 | by a guest

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In the poem “Sex without Love,” readers may experience many things, for the poem harbors a range of interpretations, depending on the depth and perception of the reading. At face value, it is simply a question and thoughts that trail off of it like wisps of smoke off a candle. If the reader delves deeper in, though, they find waiting for them an actual experience through the words, a feeling of awe, and a message of body and soul.
One of the numerous levels of this poem is of the narrator’s initial response to sex without love. She does not seem to be scolding or preaching to those who have it. Indeed, she seems to be in awe over the fact that such a thing is possible. The lines “Beautiful as dancers,/gliding over each other like ice-skaters/over the ice,” show through her choice of words how she does not see sex without love as something unclean, but rather as a show between two people, each performing for the other. Dancing and ice skating are both beautiful arts which are fully accepted in society, so in comparing sex without love to these arts, Olds is conveying to readers that she doesn’t care what they think of what the “ice-skaters” are doing. All that seems to matter is their personal happiness of the moment. However, Olds does seem to be able to see how that sex without love really is. She describes the lovers in the poem as “red as steak, wine, wet as the/children at birth whose mothers are going to/give them away,” which seems to reduce the lovers to no more than pieces of meat, each being used by the other for their own pleasures. Sex without love is only for pleasure, revenge, or physical comfort, none of which require much more from the partner than their presence. Olds also solidifies the reality of what the price for this pleasure and the heat of the moment could be—an unwanted baby. The implications of these lines add a layer of darkness to the “performance” of the lovers while at the same time adding the sensual sensory detail.
The poem is full of these details, which add overwhelmingly to the overall experience of reading it. The way Olds has set the poem up, it can be read as though readers are actually experiencing sex without love through the words in the body of the poem. The lines “come to the/come to the come to the God come to the/still waters,” when read correctly, sound a lot like the narrator and/or the poem itself is having an orgasm. For this reason, these lines really establish the experience buried in the poem, which would otherwise have been almost totally subliminal. This adds a whole new layer to the poem, making it personal to readers. Those lines are immediately followed, though, by the lines “and not love/the one who came there with them,” giving the poem the feel of sex without love. Poems are meant to be read, but when readers read poems, they don’t read them for the poems’ sakes, they read them because they take pleasure in the words. It is much like sex without love. This layer of the poem enforces the narrator’s response to loveless sex and throws back at the reader how selfish it really is.
She is not, however, scolding the selfish pleasure found in sex without love. She is instead saying that in the end, no one has any more than they are themselves. The lines “just factors, like the partner/in the bed, and not the truth, which is the/single body alone in the universe/against its own best time,” portray just how alone people are in the world. When it comes right down to it, there is nothing but one body and the best it has experienced. Everything else, the mind and soul, are meaningless lies, so if the best has to come from sex without love, then that’s where it has to come from, even if the participants “they know they are alone.” The poem also seems like Olds’ search for the answer to how to do it without love. She writes “How do they come . . . and not love/the one who came there with them,” which shows she has no idea how to do what the loveless lovers can do. She is amazed at the way they are able to set aside everything that is traditionally linked to lovemaking so as to be able to enjoy the simplicity of the pleasure. She wants to experience the pleasure, even if it is comprised of selfish lies. She knows she will still be alone, but wants it nonetheless.
Sharon Olds’ poem is beautiful in its composition and establishes a message of unity and lies, personal desires, and personal experiences of a “single body alone in the universe/against its own best time.”

| Posted on 2010-11-02 | by a guest

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the main essence of this poem for me is that it tries to mirror the reality that many people do, such an act for their own pleasure its like buying an expensive shoes but actually its not ur size you just buy it because you like it. see? it is just like that you making sex with others then after that its like nothing .... no commitment happen

| Posted on 2010-08-25 | by a guest

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She is clearly married or in love, so she loves the man she is sleeping with. If thats all you know it can be hard to understand why other people would possibly want any other lifestyle. People who have sex for pleasure may be with hundreds of people and know them intimately, but at the end of the day, they are alone... without love sex is just a selfish act

| Posted on 2010-04-04 | by a guest

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I completely disagree, this is a poem about the truth of the universe. We are all alone. When one attains zen. When one understands that it is only them within thier skin and with only their own thoughts to guide them, then they are free to make more choices. They are free to seek out what pleases them and enjoy it. They are free from the complication of dependancies. They are free to love selfishly.

| Posted on 2009-08-30 | by a guest

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Sharon Olds wants to know how people can perform the act of sex without loving the person first. It is seen throughout the poem that there is a lot of religious reference within it. The poem simply speaks of her view and how she sees it 'unholy' in a sense.

| Posted on 2008-10-22 | by a guest

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