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Erotic Poetry

Here we are without our clothes,
One excited watering can, one peculiar rose...
- Craig Raine, Sexual Couplets

Poetry, love and sex have always gone together, it seems, and Valentines Day often brings many would-be poets out of the woodwork. Poetry is often a method of expressing ardour, and sexual need, in a delicate way, one that arouses the senses, and engages the emotions.

Nonetheless, we can sometimes still be shocked at the sexual content of some older poetry. Modern day society has tended to assume that poetry is slightly dusty and boring, out of touch or sexless. I thought I'd include a few excerpts from great erotic poems on this page, just to counter that notion.

Down, wanton, down! Have you no shame,
That at the whisper of Love's name,
Or Beauty's, presto! up you raise
Your angry head and stand at gaze?
- Robert Graves, Down, Wanton, Down!

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Princess

Doing, a filthy pleasure is, and short;
And done, we straight repent us of the sport:
Let us not rush blindly on unto it,
Like lustful beasts, that only know to do it:
For lust will languish, and that heat decay,
But thus, thus, keeping endless Holy-day,
Let us together closely lie, and kiss,
There is no labour, nor no shame in this;
This hath pleased, doth please and long will please; never
Can this decay, but is beginning ever.
- Petronius Arbiter, translated from the Latin by Ben Jonson

Good God, what a night that was,
The bed was so soft, and how we clung,
Burning together, lying this way and that,
Our uncontrollable passions
Flowing through our mouths.
If I could only die that way,
I'd say goodbye to the business of living.
- Petronius Arbiter, translated from the Latin by Kenneth Rexroth

My hands
Open the curtains of your being
Clothe you in a further nudity
Uncover the bodies of your body
My hands
Invent another body for your body
- Octavio Paz, Touch, translated from the Spanish by Charles Tomlinson

Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
- John Donne, On His Mistress Going To Bed

I grant, I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
- William Shakespeare

My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved,
and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
- Song of Solomon, the Old Testament

All these excerpts are taken from poems featured in the New Penguin Book of Love Poetry. Great book, I recommend it!

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Recommended Reading

Intimate Kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure by Wendy Maltz
Maltz's anthologies are designed to inspire couples toward a deeper physical intimacy and to show that the sexual impulse can be aroused by conveying personal experience through great writing.

An Uninhibited Treasury of Erotic Poetry: by Louis Untermeyer
Louis Untermeyer has gathered the world's greatest erotica in verse, ranging from the Bible to the present day. The most renowned poets of all time are represented in this fresh collection where freedom of range is matched by an equal freedom of speech in writing about sexual love.

Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex: An Erotic Collection: Prose, Poetry and Photo Art by Tea Corrine
A new and expanded edition of Tee Corinne's ground-breaking classic which set a precedent for lesbian erotic writing. Before Susie Bright and before Annie Sprinkle there was Tee Corinne, celebrating the beauty and joy of women's sexuality. This remarkable collection of passionate poetry and prose is illustrated with ten of her stunningly sensual photographs.


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