Sex without Love: by Sharon Olds

Literature has always served people to convey their feelings and emotions. It is a very powerful remedy which helps authors show their attitude towards some issue and make people think about it. That is why it is obvious that much attention in the literature is devoted to the issue of love and sex, as these two notions are an integral part of human nature. The poem Sex without Love by Sharon Olds is the work of this kind.

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Being a modern writer, Sharon Olds can obviously see current moral norms and attitudes to these actual issues. That is why she wants to make her readers think about them and understand her point of view on this question. The poem Sex without Love serves as the platform, which helps the author show her thoughts and make readers think about the impossibility of sex without love. The author is interested in this very issue and, moreover, very often touches on some erotic side of relationships in her works. The poem Sex without Love centers around the theme of erotic relationships, and the first lines introduce the main question of the work “How do they do it, the ones who make love/without love?” (1-2).

The question at the beginning of the poem is created to make readers think about it and concentrate their attention. At the first gaze, it seems that she admires it and tries to show the beauty of this act, creating wonderful metaphors that underline some aesthetic side of these actions. However, the poem serves as a criticism of people who are engaged in sex without having some intimate feelings between them. The author’s attitude could be easily seen in this poem. She compares lovers with dancers or ice skaters who look so beautiful “Beautiful as dancers,/ gliding over each other like ice-skaters/over the ice” (2-4).

However, feelings and emotions, which can be seen between these pairs, are artificial. Ice skaters are very passionate about the skating rink. However, they can even do not like each other in real life. The situation is the same if to talk about dancers. Being involved in the dance, they show all their passion. However, it is just a moment that will pass, and nothing will remain between partners. The author also adds some ideas of children who were born without love “wet as the/children at birth whose mothers are going to/give them away” (6-8).

This metaphor is created to show that sex between partners, who do not love each other and do not want a child, leads to the appearance of undesired children. Additionally, ice skaters are chosen, not accidentally. The author wants to show that sex without love is cold, detached and deprived of the warmth of trust and intimacy, which appear between people who love each other. Nevertheless, the author ironically compares lovers with runners “they are like great runners: they know they are alone/ with the road surface” (18-19). These lines show the physical aspect of these relations, underpinning that physiology is the main driving force of such a kind of passion.

With this in mind, analyzing this poem, it is possible to see that the author tries to show her negative attitude towards the issue of sex without love as a person, who does it, is deprived of the feeling of intimacy as he/she is just a “single body alone in the universe” (23).

Work Cited

Olds, Sharon. Sex without Love. 1984. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 28). Sex without Love: by Sharon Olds. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/sex-without-love-by-sharon-olds/

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"Sex without Love: by Sharon Olds." StudyCorgi, 28 Dec. 2020, studycorgi.com/sex-without-love-by-sharon-olds/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Sex without Love: by Sharon Olds." December 28, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/sex-without-love-by-sharon-olds/.


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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Sex without Love: by Sharon Olds'. 28 December.

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