The Pleasures of Sex


O the body of my love, the body of the woman I love, the body of the man,
The woman’s body is sacred, and the man’s body is sacred,
All falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what was expected of heaven or fear’d of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable.

Bridal night, side by side, the pliant coverlid off throwing,
Come here, she blushingly cries, behaving licentious toward me,
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist, taking no denial;
Come nigh to me limber-hipp’d man,

Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and shoulders.

O madness amorous! O trembling!
O burning and throbbing!
Little you know the subtle electric fire for your sake playing within me.
O to draw you to me,
O to be yielded to you, coming naked to me at night,
And you to be yielded to me, in defiance of the world!

Your body to me is sweet, clean, loving, strong,
Your eyes are more to me than poems,
Your lips do better than play music,
The lines of your cheeks, the lashes of your eyes, are eloquent to me,
The hold of your hand is richer than riches.

Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
The rage of an unconquerable fierceness is conquered by the touch of the tenderest hand,
Our flesh, and even a part of our flesh, seems more than senses and life.
You villain touch! what are you doing?
What has become of my senses?
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
Touch has jolted down all of them but feeling,

He pleases the rest so, every one would swap off and go with him.

The curious roamer the hand roaming all over the body,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The soft sliding of hands over me and thrusting of fingers through my hair and beard,
Negligent falling hands, all diffused, mine too diffused.
This is the press of a bashful hand,
The bashful withdrawing of flesh where the fingers soothingly pause and edge themselves—
The act-poems of eyes, hands, hips, and bosoms,
Hands of love, lips of love, the pink nipples of the breasts of love, phallic thumb of love,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapp’d brothers, that only privileged feelers may be intimate where they are.
Love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding, love-climbers, love-branches, love-root, 
love-apples,
And hearts of lovers fill’d to the brim with love.

A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
Arms of love strong as attraction reach as wide and large as the air.
As I spoke of the hearts beating against each other, of two young living and loving beings, I pressed a burning kiss upon her lips—
This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
The climbing sap from the long sustain’d kiss upon the mouth or bosom,
From the close pressure that makes me or any man drunk, fainting with excess.

My breath is tight in its throat,
Your breath falls around me like dew, your pulse lulls the tympans of my ears,
I feel immerged from head to foot.
Why do you tantalize me thus?
O why do you now cease?
Is it because if you continued beyond the swift moment you would soon certainly kill me?

Thruster holding me tight and that I hold tight,
Bellies press’d and glued together with love,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

I passionately trembling, love-flesh swelling and tremulous, deliciously aching,
My limbs and the quivering fire that ever plays through them, for reasons, most wondrous,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
The furious storm through me careering,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip.

The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks—laps ear of rose-corn, milky and just ripened;
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances in darkness,
Liquor is spilled on lips and bosoms by touching glasses, and the best liquor afterward,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous,
Quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice,
Bearer of the great fruit which is immortality.
O mad-sweet drops! fill me with albescent honey,
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me,
Passion’s ecstasy indefinable, the utter abandonment, rich showering rain—
If I am to have so much, let me have more,
Drunken and crazy with love, swing in its plummetless sea.

Delicious, enough,
Enough, O deed impromptu and secret,
Parting track’d by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual loan,
And recompense richer afterward, exultation, victory,
The wholesome relief, repose, content,
Life that is only life after love.

Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting, and perfect and clean the womb cohering.
On raising their heads they both saw God who smiled at them from his azure balcony:
Love one another, he said, it is for that I have clothed your path in velvet;
Kiss one another, I am not looking;
Love one another, and if you are happy,
Instead of a prayer to thank me kiss again.

Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day,
Like the love-grips of her in whose arms I lay last night.

I did not think that I was big enough for so much extasy,
Or that a touch could take it all out of me.

Two sleepers at night lying close together as they sleep, one with an arm slanting down across and below the waist of the other,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her lover, they press close without lust, his lips press her 
neck—
Thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.

The hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the house with their plenty.
While my pleasure is yet at the full I whisper, So long!
I ate with you and slept with you,
I heard the pulse of you when all was still ringing little bells last night under my ear,
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,
Your body has become not yours only—nor left my body mine only,
Long indeed have we lived, slept, filter’d, become really blended into one. 

NEXT: Love’s Pain and Healing