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Hi everyone! We are pleased to have our guest host, Sanaa Rizvi for today’s poetics.

Welcome to dVerse Poetics. This is Sanaa Rizvi aka (adashofsunny) and I will be your hostess this evening.

Erotica has been in Literature for quite some time. Nearly 270 years and onward, the first ever erotic novel to be written is “Fanny Hill.”

It remains one of the most highly banned books in history for its bold content centuries before “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

First published in 1748, it’s a story that revolves around an ageing courtesan who looks back contemplating the stark truth of her scandalous life.

What is erotica? Other than literary or artistic work that deals significantly with subject matter which stimulates?

Detail of a classical statue by Socrates Mavrommantis on display at his “Fragments” #exhibition

To His Mistress Going to Bed

by John Donne

Licence my roving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,
My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,
To taste whole joys.  (Read full poem here)


Donne is easily the most erotic Poet in English Literature; his commemoration of his mistress’s body is free and jovial. It is entirely without shame and guilt and expresses itself in a language so sensual that it not only reproduces but attempts to transfer the energy to one reading the poem.

It’s been nearly two years since I have delved into writing erotic poetry of my own — the journey from finding my own voice to embracing it has been both challenging and profound. Following is a recent, short and humble example:

Darker Sunrise

I have surrendered many a darker sunrise
in my weakness—
your instructions never fail to arouse
the rising stems,
stretching out wherever you are,
whatever your weather.
I look upon you as a paragon of eros,
the way your lips shape my name
and obey
the pull of the commands of servitude—
sometimes there are no words left,
only beams of light
and softer sighs; is this something you can live without?

Evolution of Eros in Literature:

Erotic poetry has been written since as further back as Ancient Greece, producing poets such as Erato who was mythologized as the muse of erotic genre of poetry.

As time went by, more poets emerged in Italy including Petrarch and Guido Cavalcanti. Guido was best known for publishing “Canzone” (A lady asks me).

Another writer in the mid I500s, a French Poet called Pierre de Ronsard tried to mask the intense sexual experiences in his early love poems by infusing classical mythology into his work about his lover, Cassandre Salviati.

Shakespeare’s narrative poem “Venus and Adonis,” was his most popular work in 1593. He was of course best known for his large body of dramatic works but his poetry is still alluded to in contemporary Literature.

When the eighteenth century began, a significant Scottish poet, Robert Burns wrote heavily about sensuality and love in poems such as ‘A Red, Red Rose.’ Since its publication, it has gained a lot of popularity across the globe.

Caressed by a cloud … Detail from Correggio’s Jupiter and Io, (Antonio Allegri).

Walt Whitman’s opus “Leaves of Grass,” published in 1855, is filled with melodious eroticism particularly in “I sing the Body Electric.”

I Sing the Body Electric

(an excerpt from the poem)

This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor, 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,
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice. (Read full poem here)

And who can forget E.E. Cummings, the prolific 20th century Poet who wrote verses in hopes to shock his puritanical peers:

As We Lay Side by Side

as we lie side by side
my little breasts become two sharp delightful strutting towers and
I shove hotly the lovingness of my belly against you
your arms are
Your arms will convince me, in the complete silence speaking
upon my body
their ultimate slender language.
do not laugh at my thighs.
there is between my big legs a crisp city.
when you touch me
it is Spring in the city; the streets beautifully writhe,
it is for you; do not frighten them,
all the houses terribly tighten
upon your coming;
and they are glad
as you fill the streets of my city with children.
my love you are a bright mountain which feels.
you are a keen mountain and an eager island whose
lively slopes are based always in the me which is shrugging, which is
under you and around you and forever: I am the hugging sea.
O mountain you cannot escape me
your roots are anchored in my silence; therefore, O mountain
skillfully murder my breasts, still and always
I will hug you solemnly into me.


Erotic Poetry is particularly intriguing because this genre often demands a higher degree of lyricism through an expression of subjectivity and ‘complex feelings.’ How do these qualities mesh with the erotic? Is it pure physicality? It’s important to understand that there’s more to erotic poetry than corporeality or sexuality.

Erotic poems need not be sexually explicit and one doesn’t require use of dirty or overtly suggestive language to convey meaning. In fact, eroticism is sexiest when it remains indirect as a hint, as a suggestion between two characters.

The way this genre has manifested itself differs, of course, from one historical time to another and even from one country to another, depends on several particularities of the artistic trends that were influential at one point and on preferred kinds of sensitivity/ imaginary in a given cultural space.

Erotic poetry allows us to engage our imagination and helps us to better understand our urges and impulses and in doing so an erotic poem becomes a place where we can indulge in deep-seated desires or play out our irrational fears.

Sources:  A Brief History of Erotic Poetry and The Uses of Erotic Poetry

For today’s Poetics, I would like you to write a poem and explore the question: “What is your idea of an erotic poem? What makes it stimulating? In your own words describe the fine line between ribald and just plain classy.”

Once you have created your post, please link up with Mr. Linky widget below. Make sure you visit your fellow poets and comment on their work. I look forward to reading you all and hope you enjoy the prompt.

About our guest blogger:

If you ask me what I came to do in this universe, I as a Poet will answer you: I am here to write. A Dash of Sunny is a creative outlet for Sanaa, who possesses a deep love and inclination towards Poetry and Literature. Poetry is her calling, it chose her and is the reason behind the person she is today.

It’s necessary for one to become hurt, to be betrayed and to spend a considerable amount of time alone to truly be practical, to reflect, to recognize self and survive; her soul is a river flowing regardless of the obstacles in between. She is a dreamer and dreams of publishing several books in the time to come.