Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Sensuality and Sex


Warning: this poem is not for the faint of heart or the easily embarrassed. It is a very raw and real description of the act of love making and it just might leave you a little weak in the knees.

I discovered Galway Kinnell about the same time I happened upon Mary Oliver. Like Oliver, Kinnell relies heavily on nature for his imagery. It was that quality that first drew me to his work. And then I stumbled on the poem featured below and fell in love with his intensity, his sensuality, and his raw honesty. The first time I read Last Gods I felt my face flush. His detailed and evocative description of two lovers in the act sent tingles through my body. Never had I read anything quite like it. He brilliantly managed to capture the erotic elements of sex while also playing on the importance of relationship, and relationship is the soul of sex. Last Gods is about being in the experience instead of distancing yourself. It's about the perfect pleasure that is possible to receive from sharing our bodies with each other. Here man and woman are in their natural state and a part of nature. There is no shame, no looking away, no games. Here the body is honored. Here the defenses are down and we witness a vulnerable openness. Here we find nature celebrating and affirming our loving. And each time I read this poem it takes my breath away. I still feel the fever. I still get tingles. I'm still amazed by the sensuality of love making and the perfect way a poem can capture this most sacred of acts.

Last Gods
by Galway Kinnell
She sits naked on a rock
a few yards out in the water.
He stands on the shore,
also naked, picking blueberries.

She calls. He turns. She opens
her legs showing him her great beauty,
and smiles, a bow of lips
seeming to tie together
the ends of the earth.

Splashing her image
to pieces, he wades out
and stands before her, sunk

to the anklebones in leaf-mush
and bottom-slime--the intimacy

of the visible world. He puts
a berry in its shirt

of mist into her mouth.
She swallows it. Over the lake

two swallows whim, juke, jink,
and when one snatches
an insect they both whirl up
and exult. He is swollen
not with ichor but with blood.
She takes him and sucks him
more swollen. He kneels, opens
the dark, vertical smile
linking heaven with the underneath
and licks her smoothest flesh more smooth.

On top of the rock they join.

Somewhere a frog moans, a crow screams.
The hair of their bodies
startles up. They cry
in the tongue of the last gods,

who refused to go,
chose death, and shuddered
in joy and shattered in pieces,

bequeathing their cries

into the human mouth. Now in the lake
two faces float, looking up
at a great maternal pine whose branches
open out in all directions
explaining everything.

23 Comments:

Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Whew! I'm blushing. No, really, that's beautiful. I've only read his nature poetry too.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Sky said...

WOW! Quite evocative and thrilling...very beautifully primitive and spiritual.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i need a cigarette and i don't even smoke.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

"They cry in the tongues of the last gods..." diving deep and surfacing...Where is that river? Throw me in!

11:18 PM  
Blogger snowsparkle said...

smiles, a bow of lips
seeming to tie together
the ends of the earth...
the dark, vertical smile
linking heaven with the underneath

you said something about leaving one weak in the knees... this poem certainly followed through on your promise.

thank you!

(i'll just lay here until i get some strength back in my knees :)

12:50 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Yeah. Well. Right. (deep breath) What can I say? Sometimes the beautiful is just beautiful. That was one of those times.

1:26 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

it definately ties all together
as one...

i like the image of the pine above
at the end...

:)

3:06 AM  
Blogger ESB said...

whew.....great poem. i heard him read here a few years ago; he's amazing. (and very sexy)

4:46 AM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

When I saw the title to the post I thought "oooooh"

Great poem- pretty sexy I have to say.

Read the comments too and Denise, you crack me up. I think I could use a smoke too...

5:33 AM  
Anonymous beansprout said...

Amazing poem...makes me yearn for a moment like that, to feel that intimate connection and force. Stunning. Thank you.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous bella said...

This was great. I'm not really hard person to shock when it comes to sexual literature (I've read many a Erica Jong novels), but this is so beautifully written, so pure in thought. I enjoyed this.

6:21 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Cheezy romances have nothing on this guy.
Beautiful!
a.

6:34 AM  
Blogger tara dawn said...

This certainly illuminates the true spiritual power of love-making. The flow of the words is perfect...

8:52 AM  
Blogger mikaelah said...

what a beautiful poem.
thank you for posting this.
so rich in images and sounds and the fullness of nature. just lovely,lovely,lovely!

12:14 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Now that is a poem even John (my hubby) would like!!

1:01 PM  
Blogger M said...

Wow...great poem. Going to print that one off and take it home to share with my Sweetie!!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

Thanks for introducing me to this poet.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

For Poetry Thursday I also posted a Galway Kinnell poem that comes out of one of my favorite books.
http://spiritdoll.blogspot.com/2006/03/poetry-thursday.html

Thanks for sharing this poem - now I am definitely on a hunt to read more work by this poet!

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Shannon (Sentimental) said...

What a beautiful sensual poem that captures the moment ya know? I loved it!

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Preeti said...

I love this poem. I was just writing about it on my own blog. Roger Housden delivers a beautiful explanation of deeper meaning. You should check him out.

2:28 PM  
Blogger proteus54 said...

I performed this poem recently. It is a staggering piece to do live. Visceral, tender - and truly it does explain everything. You might also want to look at "Since I have tasted your still brimming bowl" by Victor Hugo. Thanks for posting.

5:29 PM  
OpenID Delfino said...

I was reading this poem on the bus (from a collection of poetry entitled "ten poems to change your life" by Roger Housden. Wow. What powerful imagery. I think he tries to remind us all of our birthright, to be free to connect to the natural world and to each other. We weren't evicted from The Garden--the garden is still here, right in front of our eyes.

9:21 AM  
Blogger The Shaman said...

I heard this poem read on a century of poetry. This is incredibly sexy. In a day and age when right wing groups are demanding and getting the covers of Cosmopolitan magazine obscured with blinders because of 'SEX' in supermarkets I want to sing this poem out loud in their ears.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked at how many people like this poem. It's pornography in the form of poetry. Maybe I dislike it so much because I do not enjoy pornography (and I am a heterosexual guy). A woman's great beauty is between her legs? I realize a woman's body can be beautiful, but beauty truly is so much more than physical features--especially that physical feature. I feel a good poet can write about such topics with much more tact.

10:08 PM  

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