The poems ‘sex without love’ by Sharron Olds and ‘She being Brand’ by E.E Cummings both epitomize the theme of sex and sexual encounters. Both make use of imagery to develop this theme.
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In Cumming’s poem “She being brand”, he expresses his sentiments towards sex through metaphors. To him, the act of making love is like driving a new automobile and he personifies this using the image of a woman. He sees the act of sex as devoid of any feelings just like driving a new car.
The woman in the poem is a virgin as seen in the title of the poem ‘She being Brand’ and he expresses sex with this woman as ungraceful, awkward and unskillful. The persona in the poem is selfish and inconsiderate and he does not care about the feelings of this woman.
He engages himself in the act to satisfy himself. He says, ‘I went right into it, flooded-the carburetor cranked her up, slipped the clutch (and then somehow got into reverse she kicked what the hell)’.Cumming portrays sex as something that is of no importance. For him, it is an insignificant act and his wish for it is just out of lust. The poem seems to illustrate male dominance in the society where the woman is inferior and are tools used by men to satisfy their sexual desires.
In Sharron Olds “sex without love,” similes, metaphors and analogies vividly illustrate the theme of sex and sexual activity. The poem talks about the short-lived beauty of sex but unlike Cumming’s poem, the act occurs between two experienced lovers. The act of sex in this poem unlike the Cumming’s poem is graceful, organized and elegant like two ice skaters gliding over the ice.
She describes the act as “Formal as dancers, gliding over each other like ice-skaters over the ice, fingers hooked inside each other’s bodies, faces red as steak”. In fact sex in Old’s poem is a normal activity devoid of any feelings just like any other sport. She is cynical about this and she questions this by saying, “How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?”
In Cumming’s poem, the author is trying to portray male dominance and the speaker is quite happy with himself as this act pleases him. Sharon Olds on the other hand angrily expresses disgust with the idea of having sex with someone whom one is not in love with. In lines 8-10 she says, “How do they come/ to the come to the come to/ the God come to the still waters,” Her anger expresses itself through the use of repeated words such as, ‘come to the.’ which she uses to sarcastically refer to the lovers.
In ‘she being brand,’ Cummings presents the theme of sex in lines 6-8 when he describes and personifies his new car into a woman. He uses the image of a radiator to represent a man relieving his sexual desires. In line 8, he says, “her springs were “O” and this is very suggestive. The capital “O” represents female orgasm and this line suggests the theme further.
The theme of sex is further seen in lines 28-33 where Cummings uses ‘expanding and contracting’ metaphorically to mean the act of making love. Cumming uses diction when he talks of internal expanding and external contractions to allude to the male and female sexual organs.