Saturday, November 3, 2007

Literary Interlude: The Naked and the Nude

Today I'll be volunteering at the Sarasota Reading Festival, working with the thousands of children who come for their free books. One thing I must say about Sarasota, its people are fairly literate. Our library system is like the most heavily used in Florida. Anyway, I was thinking of all the different types that will be at the fair today, and I remembered this one.

The Naked and the Nude

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

Robert Graves

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