Essay on "Sex Without Love:"by Sharon Olds

Essay on "Sex Without Love:"by Sharon Olds

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Sharon Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco. After graduating from Stanford she moved east to earn a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. Olds describes the completion of her doctorate as a transitional moment in her life: standing on the steps of the library at Columbia University, she vowed to become a poet, even if it meant giving up everything she had learned. The vow she made--to write her own poetry, no matter how bad it might be--freed her to develop her own voice. Olds has published eight volumes of poetry, includes The Dead and the Living (1984), The Wellspring (1996), The Gold Cell, (1987) etc. As in her earlier works, she has been praised for the courage and emotional power of her work which continues to witness pain, love, desire, and grief with persistent courage. "Sex Without Love," by Sharon Olds passionately describes the author's disgust for casual sex and her attitude toward loveless sex as a cold and harmful act. She brilliantly uses various poetic techniques to animate the immortality of loveless sex through her words and her great description evoke clear image in the reader mind.

One of the characteristics of Sharon Olds' poems is she likes to focus on bodily experience. And inside this poem, Sharon Olds frequently uses similes to help the audience to imagine the actual events of sex. For example in line 2, Olds uses "Beautiful as dancers" to describe the beauty of making love, but at the same time she also questions how people can do such a beautiful thing with someone whom they are not in love with. Another simile the poet uses in line 6, 7 and 8, "As wet as the children at birth whose mothers are going to give them away," and line 11, 12 and 13, "light rising slowly as steam off their joined skin...


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...e people sexual desires just like runners concern about their health. As in the end of the poem, Olds reminds people the truth, "the single body alone in the universe against its own best time", after that short period of happiness, individual is still alone in the universe and "competing" against "its own best time".

Sex is more than just a physical act. It's a beautiful way to express love. When people have sex just to fulfill a physical need, as the poet believes sex outside of love-based relationship only harms and cheapens sex. In the beginning of the poem, Olds brilliantly describe the beauty of sex, and then in the second half of the poem, she continues reference to the cold and aloneness which clearly shows her opinions about causal sex. Through this poem, Sharon Olds, has expressed her complete disrespect for those who would participate in casual sex.

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