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How Sex Doesn't Illustrate True Love in "last Night" and "sex Without Love" by Sharon Olds

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In the two poems, "Last Night" and Sex Without Love," Sharon Olds not only uses sex in both poems, but she writes about it in a serious manner, like it's "death"(12,pg.827) or just for someone's "pleasure"(17,pg.924) instead of making true love. The reader could conclude that the author has a lot of deep, negative feelings toward the topic, because she uses sex in both poems in the same way. Sex isn't always full of love and passion, sometimes it's just full of only lust and selfish pleasure.

In "Last Night," the speaker seems to have a fear of sex, "I am almost afraid,"(1) she says. The speaker doesn't enjoy sex; it's more like "killing"(13) to her. She says "no kiss, no tenderness, more like killing death-grip"(12-13). The speaker doesn't feel love during sex, but she feels different about the aftermath. "You secured me in your arms until I slept, that was love. We woke in the morning clasped, fragrant, buoyant, that was the morning after love"(26-29). She feels true love in the calm, loving moments of just being held and she loves the feeling of security. I think that women, especially, can relate to this poem strongly. Many women feel this way about sex and men tend to find sex more pleasing.

"Sex Without Love" also shows how sex doesn't always show true love and passion, but just lust. The writer says people just look at the "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"(21-23). They are both just two people alone in this world even though they are close together because there are no feelings there. They are just in this for their own pleasure.

Both poems show how you can have sex with no true feelings at all, just for the moment of sexual pleasure and not for tomorrow. A lot of people can relate to these two poems because sex is an emotional thing and some people don't always see sex as a good thing. Sex can not only be a beautiful bond between two who have become one in love, but for empty pleasure. The only big difference I see between these two poems is that in "Last night," the speaker is almost in a nightmare while for the two in "Sex Without Love," it's mutual pleasure. One is about how the speaker is afraid and the other for both pleasure and games, but the big similarity is that in both poems, sex is used for greed. Sex doesn't always illustrate the burning passion in two lovers. Sometimes it's just painfully emotional instead of fulfilling. Sex doesn't show true love in these poems, it shows fake love.

Olds, Sharon. "Last Night." The Norton Introduction To Literature. 9th Ed. Allison



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