Thursday, April 17, 2008

Those naughty poets

Delving into sonnets has introduced me to facets of poetry and poets that I did not know about. Especially the fact that Shakespeare has lots of company in writing about sex, as he did pretty explicitely in Sonnet 151. Even lil old Emily Dickinson wrote naughty verse.

A recently published book The Best American Erotic Poetry includes Dickinson and Walt Whitman, even Francis Scott Key. By the dawn's early light indeed.

Of course, being only American poetry, the book leaves out the likes of Shakespeare and Catullus (whose work is the basis of Carl Orff's bawdy Catullus Carmina, the lesser-known work of his scenic cantata triptych which includes two other erotic-tinged works Carmina Burana and the obviously carnal Trionfo di Afrodite.)

I'll have to find a more international book on the subject.

But now Emily Dickinson gets freaky.

Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!


Clearly the sea is an excellent source of erotic metaphor.