Portrait Number Five: Against A New York Summer

I’d walk her home after work
buying roses and talking of Bechsteins.
She was full of soul.
Her small room was gorged with heat
and there were no windows.
She’d take off everything
but her pants
and take the pins from her hair
throwing them on the floor
with a great noise.
Like Crete.
We wouldn’t make love.
She’d get on the bed
with those nipples
and we’d lie
and talking of my best friend.
They were in love.
When I got quiet
she’d put on usually Debussy
leaning down to the small ribs
bite me.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Jack Gilbert's poem Portrait Number Five: Against A New York Summer


  1. Rick Penkwitz says:

    This is about what the protagonist does not do or think. We will not enter his mind as he himself refuses to do. This girl is what men refer to as a **** tease because she knows he is terribly attracted but is too self effacing to dream he has a chance. This is why the wise female knows what she can get away with and why and how she bites. The word Hard is a fragment all by itself…because he was in terms of paralysis and excitement–as she was, in reference to her nipples; something excited her! She exalted in this and the whole experience was like coperating in one’s own castration. Surely we’ve all experienced this ‘being played’or playing. It’s the pear thinking how delicious the toothless fruit fly is.

  2. Jaclyn says:

    This poem made me actually feel. I felt that you were speaking to a women that was Beautiful and it was calm. and Warm. I actually never felt feeling before, when reading a poem.

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