Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
The Ocean of Sex
By Edward Carpenter (1844–1929)
(From Towards Democracy, 1883)

TO hold in continence the great sea, the great ocean of Sex, within one,
With flux and reflux pressing on the bounds of the body, the beloved genitals,
Vibrating, swaying emotional to the star-glint of the eyes of all human beings,
Reflecting Heaven and all Creatures,
How wonderful!        5
Scarcely a figure, male or female, approaches, but a tremor travels across it.
As when on the cliff which bounds the edge of a pond someone moves, then in the bowels of the water also there is a mirrored movement,
So on the edge of this Ocean.
The glory of the human form, even faintly outlined under the trees or by the shore, convulses it with far reminiscences;
(Yet strong and solid the sea-banks, not lightly to be overpassed;)        10
Till may-be to the touch, to the approach, to the incantation of the eyes of one,
It burst forth, uncontrollable.
O wonderful Ocean of Sex,
Ocean of millions and millions of tiny seed-like human forms contained (if they be truly contained) within each person,
Mirror of the very universe,        15
Sacred temple and innermost shrine of each body,
Ocean-river flowing ever on through the great trunk and branches of Humanity,
From which after all the individual only springs like a leaf-bud!
Ocean which we so wonderfully contain (if indeed we do contain thee), and yet who containest us!
Sometimes when I feel and know thee within, and identify myself with thee,        20
Do I understand that I also am of the dateless brood of Heaven and Eternity.

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