Pierre Alex Jeanty’s poem ‘Flirting with lust’ appears in his book of poetry “Ashes of Her Love,” published in 2019. From the title of the book, it is clear that this book is on the end of a relationship. The poems belonging to this verse collection features different angles of heartbreak from the perspective of women. Likewise, in this poem, ‘Flirting with lust’ there is a reference to a woman speaker who thinks of her previous partner. His emotions were driven by mere lust. For this reason, her true feelings suffer amidst the remnants of her love.
This poem is written from the perspective of a woman speaker who is betrayed in love. She is on the brink of heartache, floating in the thoughts of her past love. She can remember how he held her arms, kissed her, and craved for her body. His lustful eyes filled with utter restlessness depicted a passion that engendered from the body only. Therefore when the hunger alleviated, he treated her like a worn-off toy. His body language changed drastically. In the end, he changed his track to get someone else. While the lady appears as a lonely soul, recollecting her thoughts concerning the relationship.
You can read the full poem here.
This short nine-line poem is simple in structure. The first four lines form a unit that describes how the lady thinks of her past relationship. While the next lines describe her realization. The voice appears to be her inner self.
There is not any specific rhyme scheme in this piece. This feature is found in other modern poetry. The first few lines are short. Moving on to the end, the line length increases gradually. The overall poem is written in mostly iambic meter. But, there is not a set metrical pattern in this poem.
This piece contains some literary devices that make the speaker’s feelings more engaging to the readers. To begin with, it contains a synecdoche in the very first line. In this line, “his touch” associates his whole body. Likewise, in the second line, “his hands” have the same association.
The second, third, and fourth lines begin with a similar phrase, “the way.” It is an example of anaphora and this device is used for the sake of emphasizing the ideas. In the fourth line, “lust” is a metaphor. It seems here it represents a sexual organ.
In the next few lines, Jeanty uses rhetorical questions from bringing home the reality of the relationship. He uses irony in these lines. There is a simile in the eighth line. Here, the comparison is made between the speaker’s heart to a toy. The last line of this piece contains an epigram.
You miss his touch,
The title of the poem, ‘Flirting with lust’ portrays a person whose mind is dominated by lust. Lust is an emotion that originates from the body. Lust od the sexual craving is transient. The moment the physical hunger is satisfied, it fades away. Likewise, the speaker of this poem is dominated by her lustful emotions. The relationship has ended. Yet she craves for his touch. She can remember how his hands held her body.
If she would have loved the person, she might not be missing only his touch, but his presence. The first two lines make it clear that the relationship started with the urge of satisfying each other’s lust, nothing else. Therefore what was going to happen can be predicted easily.
If readers look at the poem closely, they can understand that Jeanty is presenting the speaker’s inner self. She is talking with herself. The relationship had ended. That’s why she is found in such a mental state. She knows her faults still she has the same lustful urge inside her body.
the way his lips became one with yours,
In these lines, the remembrance of the past relationship is portrayed. The first two lines centered on “his touch.” The lust inside the speaker is starting to get a hold of her mind. She can remember how his lips touched her during kissing. Through this line, Jeanty depicts how the lady is dominated by her physical passion. In her memory, there are no memories except her physicality with her lover.
The next line depicts how lust swelled in his eyes when he looks at her. It seems here the poet is using the word “lust’ to symbolically present the make sexual organ. When he looked at her, his lustful desires can easily be noticed in his eyes. As readers know that the eyes are the mirror of the mind. What ran through his mind gets depicted by his eyes. According to the speaker, the person longed for her body only. Therefore, when he looked there was not any sign of happiness or mental satisfaction. His eyes reflected a strong physical passion for the speaker.
But, do you miss the way those lies tasted?
From this section of the poem, ‘Flirting with lust’ the tone changes. Here, the tone is direct, calm, and emotive. Whatsoever, here the speaker asks herself whether she misses the lies told by her partner. Her lover faked his true feelings and told her that he loved her. In reality, he lied for getting easy access to her personal space as well as her body.
In the next line, the speaker asks another ironic question to herself. She enquires whether she misses the way he kept letting her down. It means when the speaker wished to know the true feelings, she was turned down. As he only needed sexual pleasure for fulfilling his lust, he let her down. He not only let her down but also her love.
The way he treated your heart,
In the last few lines of the poem, the speaker goes on asking two rhetorical questions to herself. These questions need to answer as they exemplify how the speaker was treated. According to her, he played with her heart. Here, “heart” is q symbol of love. The way he treated her love is not acceptable to her.
She feels as if the person was using her as a toy. Like a child becomes fascinated to buy a toy. When he gets the toy, he plays with it for some time. Thereafter, the toy becomes old and the child throws it away. When he gets a new toy, he even forgets about the last one. She feels of herself in the same manner. As a toy, she is no longer needed after her lover’s bodily excitement faded away. Like an old toy, he threw her away from his life.
The last line of the poem is epigrammatic. According to the speaker, keeping oneself engrossed in lust is not meaningful while the person is in search of true love. It means she has to keep her lustful thoughts away and let go of those thoughts that still bind her to her body. If she truly wants to be loved by someone, she has to transcend herself from her bodily thoughts. In this way, the last line contains a suggestion to all those who are controlled by lust.
Jeanty’s ‘Flirting with lust’ was first published in his book of poetry “Ashes of Her Love”. It was published on August 12, 2019. In this book, the author explores the reality of heartbreak faced by countless women. The poem, ‘Flirting with lust’ also taps on this theme from a different perspective. It deals with the mindset that increases the pain. The speaker of this piece is dominated by physical passions. That’s why when she is not with her partner, her body makes her think of her past. In reality, she needs a resort that can nourish her soul. Apart from that, through this poem, Jeanty throws light on the modern relationship that is commonly built on the foundation of lust.
Here is a list of a few poems that similarly explores the important themes present in Pierre Alex Jeanty’s poem, ‘Flirting with lust’.
- Hello Lust by Anita Nair – This poem is about lust and the nature of this emotion. Explore more poetry of Anita Nair.
- Late Flowering Lust by John Betjeman – It’s one of John Betjeman’s best-known poems. This poem explores the establishing of a sexual relationship between two people drawing near to the ends of their lives. Read more poems from John Betjeman.
- Marking Time by Owen Sheers – This poem explores the themes of sexuality and memory, nostalgically combining them both that reflects on the lustful side of a relationship. Explore more Owen Sheers poems.
- Heart and Mind by Edith Sitwell – This poem centers on passion and its difference from the traditional idea of true love. Read more poetry by Edith Sitwell.