Sex without love has become the norm for too many teenagers in this century. Sharon Olds illustrates this fact in a very beautiful way in her ironic poem "Sex without Love." Olds was born in San Francisco but lived most of her life in New York. She received numerous awards for her writing. This particular poem describes sex without love in a rather questioning way, wondering how those indulging in this sex without marriage can do it. Olds criticizes sex without love while evoking it in terms of emotion and passion, and the attitude taken toward the couple involved changes as the poem progresses. In the beginning, the reader will accept the lovers and their actions, but in the course of the poem, the reader will come to see that the poet is in truth making fun of them. This is what makes the poem ironic and interesting.
Sharon Olds begins the poem with a tone of astonishment as she raises the ironic question, "How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?" (1). She seems to be asking why she cannot do the same thing, but clearly she is amazed that they can do it because she herself does not know how. At first, she seems to be envious of these young people, but soon it is apparent that she is going to take a different tone and imply that sex with no love is wrong.
The poet takes a very derisive tone toward the lovers at times. For instance, she writes,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the priest
The poet here suggests that these are people who are religious and who worship God, knowing that in fact they are the opposite. She thus uses an ironic characterization to create one impression then dash it as she pokes fun at these people for appearing to be religious when in fact they accept a false Messiah and love the priest instead of the God. Olds describes the lovers as people who do not believe in Jesus beca