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The Naked and the Nude
The Naked and the Nude
by Robert Graves
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The Sun

Symbol Analysis

Okay, so the poem doesn't actually mention the sun by name, but its imagery radiates in the stanzas on the naked. There are lots of reasons why Graves might turn on the sunlight in his descriptive language: for one thing, the sun helps us to see. Also, it's a life force of a sort—plants wouldn't grow without it. And you might be a whole lot more sickly-looking if the sun never came out to play.

It's so important that, for centuries, people believed that it was at the center of the universe. Sure, science came along and changed all that, but it hasn't changed our sense that the sun is absolutely central to life as we know it. By extension, anything with sun-like qualities is probably going to be pretty high on our "like" list.

  • Line 8: When lovers' bodies are described as "ablaze," we're guessing that Graves doesn't mean that they've been set on fire. That is the opposite of delightful (and really pretty gross). Luckily, we're guessing that "ablaze," in this context, means shining. Hollywood's got this sunlit-lover thing down, by the way—like when James Bond rises out of the ocean and looks oh-so-fine. Or when music plays, the film starts moving in slo-mo, and the camera zooms in on a heroine with the sun behind her, so that it seems to shine straight out of her skin.
  • Line 11: More shining here, and we're guessing that—since "the Goddess" is naked—the speaker is really talking about (sun)light on her naked body. Once again, the sun is drawing positive attention to the human form.