|“Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” (1932) -Picasso|
By Thom Gunn
It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who'd showed us in the end
To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
Already I lay snug,
And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.
I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
Suddenly, from behind,
In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:
Your instep to my heel,
My shoulder-blades against your chest.
It was not sex, but I could feel
The whole strength of your body set,
Or braced, to mine,
And locking me to you
As if we were still twenty-two
When our grand passion had not yet
My quick sleep had deleted all
Of intervening time and place.
I only knew
The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.
“Ode to a Naked Beauty”
– Pablo Neruda
“With chaste heart, and pure eyes
I celebrate you, my beauty,
restraining my blood
so that the line
surges and follows
and you bed yourself in my verse,
as in woodland, or wave-spume:
whether it is your feet, arching
at a primal touch
of sound or breeze,
or your ears,
tiny spiral shells
from the splendour of America's oceans.
Your breasts also,
of equal fullness, overflowing
with the living light
your eyelids of silken corn
the deep twin landscapes of your eyes.
The line of your back
falls away into paler regions
to the smooth hemispheres
of an apple,
and goes splitting
into two pillars
of burnt gold, pure alabaster,
to be lost in the twin clusters of your feet,
from which, once more, lifts and takes fire
the double tree of your symmetry:
flower of fire, open circle of candles,
swollen fruit raised
over the meeting of earth and ocean.
Your body – from what substances
agate, quartz, ears of wheat,
did it flow, was it gathered,
rising like bread
in the warmth,
and signalling hills
valleys of a single petal, sweetnesses
of velvet depth,
until the pure, fine, form of woman
and rested there?
It is not so much light that falls
over the world
extended by your body
its suffocating snow,
as brightness, pouring itself out of you,
as if you were
Under your skin the moon is alive “