17th Century Poem Explains Why Love Means Nothing Without Sex

William Cartwright (1611-1643) was a seventeenth-century poet who was a little tired of all the “minds embracing minds” crap in the poetry he read. In this poem, he claims that love is basically a sham without sex (but that sex without love is still, well, sex). Whether or not Cartwright was fond of seventeenth-century booty-calling is a fact lost to history.

No Platonic Love

by William Cartwright

Tell me no more of minds embracing minds,
And hearts exchang’d for hearts;
That spirits spirits meet, as winds do winds,
And mix their subt’lest parts;
That two unbodied essences may kiss,
And then like Angels, twist and feel one Bliss.

I was that silly thing that once was wrought
To practise this thin love;
I climb’d from sex to soul, from soul to thought;
But thinking there to move,
Headlong I rolled from thought to soul, and then
From soul I lighted at the sex again.

As some strict down-looked men pretend to fast,
Who yet in closets eat;
So lovers who profess they spririts taste,
Feed yet on grosser meat;
I know they boast they souls to souls convey,
Howe’r they meet, the body is the way.

Come, I will undeceive thee, they that tread
Those vain aerial ways
Are like young heirs and alchemists misled
To waste their wealth and days,
For searching thus to be for ever rich,
They only find a med’cine for the itch.

Want something a little more romantic?
Sylvia Plath’s Ode to Young Love


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