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The Gift

by Zettel 

Posted: 14 March 2006
Word Count: 103
Summary: It is perhaps a mistake to sexualise romance. Equally to romanticise sex. Here I may have done both. You must judge whether that is a third mistake.

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This most ancient act of human kind
Echoes down the years
Born in need but lived in mind
It brings both joy and bitter tears

I am not alone before the void
It whispers to an open heart
Fear free dear Dr Freud
When love transforms two souls apart

This joyous dance of fragile hope
Transforms a selfish need
Into a gift of love
An act of selflessness not greed

This freely offered gift of love or even life
Immortality held for the briefest moment close
A peaceful space in a world of strife
An instant of eternity we cannot lose

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Comments by other Members

DJC at 20:08 on 19 March 2006  Report this post

I'm new to this group so am going through the mroe recent poems trying to give my impressions. I think you're right about the difficulties of romance and sex, although they aren't mutually exclusive, with one often leading to the other (hopefully for most).

There are some thought provoking images here: 'This joyous dance of fragile hope /
Transforms a selfish need' is one which particularly stands out as it suggests the movement of two bodies together, and I like the idea of 'selfish' as sex ultimately is.

However, my main concern is the metre and rhyme. I think that, by forcing too many rhymes and by constraining yourself to a pattern, it ends up sounding a little contrived. If you aimed to break away from these patterns then maybe you'd give yourself a little more freedom, which would mean your word choice could be more original Just a thought.


Zettel at 20:32 on 19 March 2006  Report this post
Thanks Darren

R-Poet at 17:48 on 21 March 2006  Report this post

I feel it's best to avoid changing rhyming style midstream.

The poem moves from the full-rhymed structure of stanzas 1 & 2 (both are ABAB) to the half-rhyming style of the remaining stanzas (stanza 3's "hope"/"love"; stanza 4's "close"/"lose").

Maybe, by "softening" to use of the half-rhyme approach throughout, Darren's point (on constraining & contrived) can also be satisfied.


Zettel at 18:34 on 21 March 2006  Report this post
Worth a look Steve - thanks.


NinaLara at 08:05 on 26 March 2006  Report this post
Dear Zettle,

Thanks for the poem - you are drawing together complex thoughts. I wonder whether it would be worth 'unpacking' the poem a little? I think it would work a lot better if you were specific about a particular event or moment and questioned what was going on. The thoughts of every verse seem to demand development; I think you could write a poem about each.

which people are you talking about in verse 1? You want to get a sense of timelessness across .... what situation could give rise to this kind of connection across history? There is also a sense that our minds trick us ... perhaps create romantic narratives across unconscious or 'biological' need. Could you get more from this? Then there is the word 'echo' that suggests so much is repeated, a cycle ... lines repeated in poetry, the act of procreation, even repetitions in a lifetime when one lover reminds you of another. The final line of the last verse clearly states the 'bitter-sweet' of love - the addictive gut-wrenching pleasure/pain. So you see, in four lines you have tried to express the whole history of human experience ... which is why I think it needs 'unpacking'.


gard at 21:45 on 26 March 2006  Report this post
Hi Zettel

I agree with the others about the poem being too constrained.

But mostly why is it a mistake to romanticise sex or vice versa? Isn't that what people like Wordsworth Bryon and so on through the ages, made their great works out of? Or have I just misunderstood your intro? I mean you write of this in your piece so I am confused...


Zettel at 21:51 on 26 March 2006  Report this post

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. It may be that the poem hints at a great deal more than it can cover in its brevity.

Our culture commoditises everything and nothing more than sex. A consequence of this is that sex is what we may call, to use an ugly term, transactionalised. Remember that hilarious but fairly deep sketch in Monty Python where John Cleese's bank manager is asked for a charity gift and just cannot comprehend the idea of giving something for its own sake? His comprehension falls short of the idea that someone might give something freely for its own sake and not as a kind of investment for a further personal reward or gain. This can apply just as well to emotional or sexual satisfaction as it does to financial reward.

As with everything else we seem to have become consumers of sex, buyers or sellers with all the paraphernalia of consumers - do we get the best; could we get better, be better; do we get our fair share; if we don't like what we get, can we shop around, seek another supplier etc etc etc. In marketing terms we might say we have established market segmentation between sex and love. Yet advertising conflates these by equating having sex with 'making love'. At least we should see these as asymmetric - in modern terms all 'making love' may involve sex but by no means must all sex involve 'making love'. 'Romance' becomes a niche market within the broader market of 'love'. Pornography is a highly lucrative niche market within the infinite market for sex.

I suppose beneath this simple little poem was the thought e.g. that the blood donor (or the organ donor etc) who gives blood for free and voluntarily, not for payment is expressing a kind of unselfish 'love'. The person who gives to charity, to the incomprehension of the Cleesian Bank Managers, is doing the same - the desperation of the egoist reductionists will turn this into - "ah well you only do that because it makes you feel good to do it."

Perhaps derived from actually misinterpreted Freudian concepts, we seem to arrived at a kind of emotional reductionism that says that it is an a priori matter that we can only be motivated to give by the reward the giving returns to us.

My little poem was a protest against this view. That while of course sex and love can be separated; they can also be seen as inseparable to the immense benefit of both. A rather weak protest against the assumption that sex and/or love must necessarily be seen as a form of possession, of ownership.

I would be the first to accept that it is hopelessly inadequate to express such a view. And I am also aware that such a view can be both satirised and comandeered for moral agendas e.g religious, that I would reject. But at the time it just seemed worth trying to make what seems rather a simple thought. But then I guess nothing involving sex is ever simple.

Thanks for the comments.





For some reason your comment popped up after I had responded to Nina. I hope the idea that drove the poem is clear from that? (Even of course if you don't agree with it).

Of course a lot of this discussion rests on the 'depends what you mean by...' issue. Especially
'romantic' and 'romanticise'. As a philosopher I feel uncomfortable in this kind of discussion when such distinctions come up. As soon as they are raised it seems as if one is in a totally different discussion where the real issue has been left behind.

Anyway from my experience, the last person you would look to for insight into issues of intimacy would be a philosopher. Just as the last person you would look to to run a country and solve the practical problems of a nation would be a lawyer.

irony abounds


Brian Aird at 10:15 on 27 March 2006  Report this post
If love and sex can - with a little imagination - be infinitely various; it might depend as with food on the recipe and the cook(s). But its also where life begins for all of us, so The gift becomes an apt title. The infinite variation of love/sex/romance we are capable of does seem to need a more free-form format that the ryhme structure you've chosen - but there are no rules here...as with love and sex...


Zettel at 11:29 on 27 March 2006  Report this post

I'll go with that. I had no great pretensions with the poem - just one point of view on one aspect that doesn't always seem to get much of a look in.



steve_laycock at 09:27 on 30 March 2006  Report this post
Hi Zettle,
I'm new to the group so I'm late here.

I'm gonna leap to your defence i think. I really like it, and a part of poetry is to try to express the unexpressable so I don't aree with Nina that there is too much in here. Sometimes being left with questions is good, sometimes bad, depends on how much you enjoy the language, i guess. And I liked this.

Also, i think the reason we no longer romanticise love is freudian analysis, which has made us so cynical about how we feel, as i think your saying; it's a 21st C. plague. I'm examining some of Bob Dylans love poetry for an extended essay in class at the moment, and he's a great example of the eternal analyst - still going at 65. Hasn't done him any good. With this in mind i LOVED the lines:
"I am not alone before the void
It whispers to an open heart
Fear free dear Dr Freud
When love transforms two souls apart"
The missing syllable in the 'Fear free...' line lead me to drag out fear over two beats as i read it, really sticking two fingers up at the old doctor. and it is love, not analysis that heals the broken heart - whether between a romatntic couple or an analyst and patient (I believe anyway).

I don't mind the broken rhyme in the third stanza either, because it ends on a strong rhyme and the fact that love doesn't rhyme (and the line seems a little short) highlights the point, for me. The gift of love - a concept i think Freud, and certain bank managers i know, just wouldn't get.

The only thing i would say, which is quite major, is to have a really long look at the fourth stanza. The sentiment is fine, though it's a little sentimental (even) for me, but the rhythm suddenly changes and after enjoying the rest of the piece i ran into it like a brick wall.

Other than that - long live love!

Zettel at 08:22 on 01 April 2006  Report this post

Thanks for the very much for the perceptive comments. I rather agree about the last stanza and will look at it again.




in fact I wonder whether for what it is, the poem is perhaps complete without the last stanza? Whaddya think?


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