10 of the Best Poems about Sex

On this list, readers can explore 10 of the best poems ever written about the subject of sex. Some of these take an incredibly positive tone while others analyze the various complications in relationships.

No matter one’s history of relationships, there is sure to be a poem on this list that is inspiring and moving. The poets included range from feminist writers like Anne Sexton and Louise Glück to the metaphysical poet John Donne and the well-loved Pablo Neruda. 

Best Poems About Sex


Mock Orange by Louise Glück 

This well-known Glück poem connects an orange to the intimacy between a man and a woman. Unlike other poems on this list, the poet does not depict sex in a positive way. She suggests that it results in nothing. Nothing but “the low, humiliating / premise of union.” It’s a “premise” but nothing more. Here are a few lines: 

I hate them.

I hate them as I hate sex,

the man’s mouth

sealing my mouth, the man’s

paralyzing body—

Read more Louise Glück poems

Like a Flower in the Rain by Charles Bukowski 

This interesting piece describes an unusual couple and includes their intimate conversation. It appeared in Charles Bukowski’s poetry collection, Love is a Dog From Hell, in 1977. The speaker records how the couple has sex while talking about seemingly unimportant, domestic matters. At the end of the poem, the speaker shops for food items and eats with his partner. Here are a few lines: 

I cut the middle fingernail of the middle

finger

right hand

real short

and I began rubbing along her cunt

as she sat upright in bed

spreading lotion over her arms

Discover more Charles Bukowski poems

Meeting at Night by Robert Browning

‘Meeting at Night’ by Robert Browning was originally featured in Dramatic Romances and Lyrics in 1845. In the poem, the poet’s speaker describes sailing across the sea to reach the person that they love. Less sexual but still passionate, this poem uses natural imagery to suggest the longing that the speaker has for their upcoming secret meeting with their lover. Here are a few lines: 

The grey sea and the long black land;

And the yellow half-moon large and low;

And the startled little waves that leap

In fiery ringlets from their sleep,

Read more Robert Browning poems.

Their Sex Life by A. R. Ammons

‘Their Sex Life’ explores contemporary relationships and sexuality. It’s a very short poem that alludes to a couple having sex. Throughout the piece, the poet summarizes the nature of modern-day relationships and considers themes like love and failure. There are similarities between this piece and Glück’s ‘Mock Orange.’ The first line of the poem reads: 

One failure on

The poem concludes with one more short line that, when connected with the title, tells a story. 

Read more A. R. Ammons poems

Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds

Sex Without Love’ is Olds’ best-known poem. In it, the speaker asks the reader to consider the implications of relationships that are only based on sex rather than emotional love. While using numerous similes and metaphors, the poet speaks about lovers– those who “make love” without being “in love.” Here are a few lines: 

How do they do it, the ones who make love

without love? Beautiful as dancers,

gliding over each other like ice-skaters

over the ice, fingers hooked

Discover more Sharon Olds poems

Late Flowering Lust by John Betjeman

‘Late Flowering Lust’ explores a sexual relationship between two people near the end of their lives. The poem is as concerned with love and passion as it is with death. The poet takes a chilling tone throughout the piece, subverting what readers were likely expecting when they started this sexual poem. Here are a few lines: 

My head is bald, my breath is bad,

    Unshaven is my chin,

I have not now the joys I had

    When I was young in sin.

Read more John Betjeman poems

Love Sonnet XI by Pablo Neruda

Love Sonnet XI’ by Pablo Neruda is one of Neruda’s best-known poems. It is one of several that he wrote as “love sonnets.” In this poem, he focuses primarily on the theme of desire. It compares the speaker’s lust and desire to the hunger of a puma. The best-known image associated with the poem is that of a puma prowling through the jungle seeking out a meal as the speaker lusts for sex. Here are a few lines: 

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,

hunting for you, for your hot heart,

like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Explore more Pablo Neruda poems

For My Lover Returning to His Wife by Anne Sexton

This piece compares the relationship the speaker has with her lover and that which he has with his wife. It is forty-eight lines long and contained within one stanza. This poem challenges readers to consider the nature of this three-person relationship. Partway through the poem, the speaker suggests that her lover should return to the wife that he loves so much. Here are a few lines: 

She is all there.

She was melted carefully down for you

and cast up from your childhood,

cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.

She has always been there, my darling.

She is, in fact, exquisite.

Read more Anne Sexton poems

To His Mistress Going to Bed by John Donne

This piece was published posthumously and is one of Donne’s best-known. It depicts a speaker’s pleas for his lover to undress and come to bed with him. He wants to lay claim to her body, like the “new-found-land” of America. As time progresses, the speaker becomes more desperate. He sees no reason for her to keep her clothes on. Here are a few lines: 

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy, 

Until I labour, I in labour lie. 

The foe oft-times having the foe in sight, 

Is tir’d with standing though he never fight. 

Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering, 

But a far fairer world encompassing. 

Discover more John Donne poems

Hello Lust by Anita Nair

This piece is about lust and sex. Within the poem, the speaker uses metaphors to depict the complex nature of their relationships. Readers will experience language that alludes to the highs and lows of sexual relationships. Here are a few lines:

I should have seen lust

when it came calling..

For it visits you..

Fragrant of sunshine,

grass and sly desires

Read more Anita Nair poems.

FAQs 

What is a sex poem? 

A sex poem is a poem that uses feelings associated with sex, relationships, lust, and passion. Some of these pieces are outwardly sexual but others are far more complicated and deal with the intricacies of relationships.

How to write a sex poem? 

To write a sex poem, one has to do more than relay their feelings about sex. It’s important to consider the implications of one’s actions, the various perspectives of those involved, and any complications that might arise from the nature of one’s relationship.

What is the best poem about sex?

Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XIis often cited as one of the, if not the, best poems about sex. While it uses lustful images, it does so in an incredibly tasteful and memorable way.

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About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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