Custom Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds essay paper sample
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It is not in doubt that this is a very relevant poem in this day and age. Sharon Olds has tried to bring out the ways of the society in a more aggressive way. She does not mince her words while dealing with this delicate issue. She uses the persona to air out her worries and grievances. The poem use various literal, and poetic language mirrors the current societal situation and attitudes toward sex and love.
The poem is set in the contemporary world and talks about how sex has been reduced to an activity. This is to say that, the sentimental value that had been attached to the art of making love has been lost. There is no more emotional attachment in the relationships nowadays. People are not getting together because they love each other, they are just hooking up in order to have casual sex and then separate. The major concerns in the poem are in lines 16 to 20. The poem highlights how an individual considers the lover in the same way he considers factors while in a race. There is no regard for the lover. The way a runner fits and removes his shoes is the same way he sleeps with his lover and parts ways. '...they know they are alone...'(18); this signifies that there is no emotional attachment between the lovers and that everyone is on his own. The speaker in the poem, who is the persona, is a person who is worried about the trends in the social life. The persona wonders how two people can make love and not be in love. This shows the disillusionment that the persona is having towards the dating and marriage scenario that is being observed today.
The persona, either a man or a woman, is not happy with the way people have casually abused sex. It is clear in the poem that the persona does not approve of such relationships whereby the couple does not have intimate feelings for each other. In the whole poem the persona questions him or herself as to why this is the case. 'How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?' (lines 1 and 2) clearly depicts how the persona cannot seem to understand how people can be so cold while dealing with their emotions and matters of the heart. Undoubtedly, the persona is somehow religious. Let us assume that the persona is female. She believes that God is love (lines 8-13) and that sex is God given. Therefore she wonders how a couple can make love and not have love in their hearts as God is love. She is baffled by the extreme events that have made the art of making love inutile. For her, she believes that when a couple is making love, they should have a bond that unifies them, just the way God intended it to be.
In order to convey her message well, Sharon Olds employed various elements used in poetry. First and foremost, she endeavored to bring out the message of the poem in a tone that is convenient with the subject matter. The tone of the poem is subtle and convicting. There is no doubt that the persona is not happy with what is happening. The persona wants to make sure that the message of the poem is clearly understood by the readers. This tone is evident in the way the persona questions herself in the first two lines. The persona is somehow strong in her tone to rebuke the ways of the people who are disregarding the place of love in sex. This tone is felt throughout the poem. Until the last sentence, the poet has managed to show her discontentment with the way love has been disregarded. The poet has gone ahead and used language that has not been censored. This is to show how candid she is in discussing this issue. She is forthright and does not hesitate to use a language that other people may consider inappropriate. She describes the art of making love (lines 3-5) 'Gliding over each other like ice-skaters over the ice, fingers hooked inside each other's bodies'. She then goes further to write about a delicate issue on religion. She does not shy away to mention the 'false Messiah' (15). It is not in any poem that the poet describes intricate issues such as religion. This clearly shows that by her choice of language, she wanted her message to be comprehended without any misunderstandings.
Sharon Olds in her poem 'Sex Without Love' has vividly used more aspects of poetry while writing this poem. Firstly is the use of simile. This is when a poet compares and likens two things directly. Sharon has excelled in this by comparing the movements the lovers make while having sex; 'Gliding over each other like ice-skaters over the ice' (lines 3-4). She likens the two actions and compares them as to having the same effect. Another simile that the poet has used is 'faces red as steak' (lines 5-6). She has likened the faces of the lovers while making love as being as red as red meat. This is supposed to give a mental picture of how the two lovers look. It will then make readers understand the subject matter better. There is the use of metaphor in this poem. This is comparing of two things that are thought to be unlike. Sharon wrote, 'they are like great runners' (line 18). This is a metaphor because she has compared the behavior of the lovers to that of the runners. The effect here is to compare the two and show the similarities in their behavior. She has employed rhetorical questions whereby the persona asks a question that does not require an answer. This is done so that the reader can be prompted to think more.
She writes, 'how do they do it, the ones who make love without love?' (lines 1-2). Here the poet wants to strike a certain reaction from the reader. The poet wants the reader to ponder over that issue while he reads on. The question gives you an idea of what the poem is going to talk about. A rare element of poetry is the use of hyphenation. This is when a poet uses a hyphen to give more details in a poem. Sharon writes, '...cardio vascular health--just factors' (lines 20-21). This is in an effort to show how the details before have been linked to statement that follows. The road surface, the wind, the cold and the shoes are just factors that runners consider the same way lovers do. Sarcasm, a form of mocking or use of a language that is intended to convey scorn has been used by the poet. Sharon has expressed this when she says, 'the ones who...love the priest instead of the God'. This is a clear portrayal of sarcasm as it is evident that any believer should love God more than the priest. However, Sharon scorns at the people who love the priest more than God. All this is in the effort of trying to make the poem as appealing as possible.
All in all, the elements discussed above, work together to bring out the message in the poem. The poem is a true reflection of our society and this poem is meant to make us think and be conscious of our actions.