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Last Night vs the Embrace

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Aubrie Smith
English 1102
May 31, 2012
“Last Night” VS “The Embrace”
Love is defined in the dictionary in many ways; just as in life, love does not hold one indefinite meaning, but an exclusive meaning to each individual. Poets throughout history have written countless poems on the topic of love. In some aspects these poems are very similar to one another but at the same time unique in their own manner. Sharon Old’s “Last Night” describes the love she encounters only for a brief moment after having sex for the first time. Whereas Mark Doty’s “The Embrace” pronounces the love he feels for his lover, when seeing him in a dream. These love poems seem to take a different path from the orthodox love poems one is used to seeing, and instead they express a side of love that is not often talked about. Both of these works represent a strong sense of symbolism that only expands the meaning that each poet is voicing. Although in most ordinary love poems, the poet seems to be expressing his deep and impenetrable love for a women, or vice versa. In Sharon Old’s “Last Night” it seems to be the complete opposite. She is not sure if it’s even love at first, she writes “Love? It was more like dragonflies in the sun, 100 degrees at noon,” (2-3) She portrays the act of sex as very animalistic and loveless. “No tenderness-more like killing, death-grip” (13) she goes on to say that she hardly knew herself (5-6) which is symbolic of the guilt someone often feels after losing their virginity or maybe partaking in a one night stand. Old’s describes the side of love that is rarely talked about, the sexual side full of selfishness and lust. She does not even mention feeling loved except for a brief moment after the act of sex has already been committed. “You secured me in your arms till I slept that was love,” (26-27) Although Sharon Old’s poem is not a traditional love poem; it talks about a side of love that is important for society to hear more about. Love is not all candy and roses, it involves much more complexity. While “Last Night” describes more of the lustful side of love, Mark Doty’s “The Embrace” defines the homosexual speaker’s feelings for his lover that he lost to a tragic disease. The speaker has a hard time remembering his partner’s face he states, “Why so difficult, remembering the actual look of you? (15-16) this represents an extended period of time between seeing his partner last, and reminiscing in the dream. Although the death of the speakers partner was such a tragedy he takes the dream as an opportunity to embrace his partner for “the time the dream allowed” (20) symbolically showing the strong love the couple once shared. The speaker is thankful that his lover has decided to visit him once again, but glad he is able to remember that it is only a dream. (21-24) Love is something that man or women will never fully understand. The complexity, beauty, danger, and its uniqueness to each individual is something that makes love a hard concept to grasp. Poets like Sharon Old’s, Mark Doty and countless more, have given the world a more in depth look at the world of love. With such a wide range of meanings it is understandable why so many poets write on the topic of love. After all “it’s love that makes the world go round.” (W.S. Gilbert)

Works Cited

Olds, Sharon. "Last Night." Literature to Go. By Michael Myer. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. N. pag. Print.

Doty, Mark. "Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More." Poets.org. Harper Collins, 1988. Web. 08 June 2012.

Cited: Olds, Sharon. "Last Night." Literature to Go. By Michael Myer. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. N. pag. Print. Doty, Mark. "Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More." Poets.org. Harper Collins, 1988. Web. 08 June 2012.

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