Friday, January 22, 2010

"The Imperfect Enjoyment"

I could not help but laugh and wonder how John Wilmot, the Earle of Rochester's perverse and obscene poem, "The Imperfect Enjoyment" got paired up with Marvell's "A Dialogue between the Soul and Body" and Vaughan's "The Waterfall," which seem to be more concerned with the relationship between the Body and the Soul. Unlike the latter poems mentioned, Rochester's "The Imperfect Enjoyment" is only worried about the pleasures of the body and creating a pleasurable bond with the woman he claims he loves. However, I want to argue that beyond the rather pornographic images in the poem, there is more to this narrative poem that explains his experiences with women: in fact, Rochester is questioning Love and his own physical manifestation of the love he feels for the woman of his dreams. In this poem, Rochester is exemplifying a distress similar to that between the Body and the Soul: although the speaker of the poem has achieved the mental state of Love, he cannot perform it physically. The speaker cannot synchronize his emotions with his physical being: But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,/
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:/I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive" (lines 25-27). Because Rochester feels so strongly for this woman, and cant fully fulfill her sexually; he is asserting the same kind of contradictory relationship that exists between the Body and the Soul in Marvell's poem. But, hey, maybe I am reading to deep into lol. I was just attempting to bring the three poems together in a way that they would all make sense. They were all assigned on the day so I figured that perhaps they were somehow supposed to be related in subject matter. hehe


  1. Daniela, I completely understand the relationship between body and soul that you have pointed out in your post. I think it can be further supported by his frustration that "when vice, disease, and scandal lead the way,/ With what officious haste dost thou obey" (52-3). To be frank, Wilmot never had a problem performing when he was motivated by physical pleasure, but as soon as he desires a more intense, soulful connection to a woman his body refuses to cooperate. I think this reflects the dilemma in Marvell's poem because both the body and soul refuses to promote the other's interests.

  2. You have both isolated precisely why I paired Rochester's poem with Vaughan and Marvell: the soul is clearly getting in the way of bodily pleasure.