Study Guide

Archaic Torso of Apollo Steaminess Rating

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Steaminess Rating

PG

Sex sort of lurks in the background of this poem. The "smile" in the lines that sketch out "the placid hips and thighs / to that dark center where procreation flared" (7-8) points both to a very physical, sensual depiction of the god Apollo, while also gesturing towards the notion that the gods of Greek mythology are both like us and unlike us. They had children with each other, and with humans, so there's something about that "darkness" that seems mysterious, even though it's lit up by the fiery "flare" of passion. So, yes, this is kind of a sexy poem, but always in a classy poetic way, never an obvious one.

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