The Kiss and A Song of Despair

Rodin


The Kiss

1901-4

Auguste Rodin

There is a moment in time when two lovers, oblivious to the world around them, are about to lose themselves to the irresistable compulsion of erotic love.

This moment is captured exquisitely by Rodin in The Kiss . Rodin's ambition was to "render inner feelings through muscular movement" and if it's possible in all but the literal sense to breathe life into marble, then Rodin has done so, for The Kiss is something more than an accomplished craftsman's mastery over cold stone...it's an exploration of the emotional depths of flesh and blood people. His fluid, powerful bodies exude an energy that pulses with life.

Originally designed as a frieze for the Gates of Hell[an entrance to a museum] Rodin based his lovers on a story from Dante's Divine Comedy . However these are not the stiff and static classical figures of mythical heroes; they're real in a very human sense. Rodin has managed to recreate a living scene and invest it with emotion so that the viewer can almost feel the sense of 'tension before a fall' about the surrendering couple.

There is no view from which we can see the faces of the figures clearly, yet this scarcely matters, as, enmeshed and entwined, the lovers are becoming one and it's the act of passion, rather than the individuals, which is so evocative a vision. In the male figure, the toes are curled and tensed and his hand touches the girls hip lightly in anticipation,not quite pressing on his lovers body.The female figure half reclines in abandonement and her body relaxes in expectation The viewer senses that in the next few moments the lovers will be immersed in the full-blown ecstasty of the embrace.

Rodins perceptive nuances elicit a more emotive response than a less subtle erotic piece might have achieved.Had the lovers been shown in full, tight embrace we would have lost something of the tension and sensitivity which help make the work so effective.

Like Michelangelo's David , The Mona Lisa and Munch's Scream , The Kiss has become a victim of its own fame and has in part mutated into a hackneyed cultural icon, overexposed and exploited by the forces of kitsch to appear on tea towels, tissue boxes and mugs. Yet perhaps this is just an indicator of how deeply such works resonate in the human psyche.




Neruda Says it Better


My response to the Kiss is an emotional one and it's quite hard, for this writer at least, to convey an emotional response in words. Of course if I had been born a highly talented Chilean poet, I would have written this!:


You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,

Turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!


From A Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda


This excerpt from Neruda's poem seems to match so well the mood of The Kiss and like the sculpture, carries a sense of abandonment to the 'spell'.. .an intoxication. The connection was not discovered by me as I once received a virtual postcard with sculpture and poem together. I was so affected by the words and image I fell madly in love with the sender! Mind you, I was already three-quarters there, it just tipped me over the edge.

Anyone who has been passionately in love will have felt what it's like to be immersed in the well of desire where "everything sinks". Both The Kiss and Song of Despair use the same sensual, melancholic language to conjure this experience, one through form, the other with words.

As to the love affair? Well I'm over it now....after intoxication comes the inevitable hangover.

Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda


For more kissing check out http://hubpages.com/hub/kiss-and-quotes

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Comments 31 comments

Dixon Steele profile image

Dixon Steele 6 years ago

Well written and well observed. "Between dispair and nothing I would choose dispair" Faulkner


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Me too...


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Rodin created a masterpiece of embrace. Two lovers caught up and entwined with a kiss of passion. THE KISS throughout the ages has signified the beginning that leads to the ultimate climax of two souls combined into one for that very lingering moment in time. A wonderful hub, thanks for the share, big UP from me.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thankyou saddlerider.


Arthur Windermere profile image

Arthur Windermere 6 years ago

Howdy JB,

Interesting, hub. Very poetic. But a part of me resists the urge to sentimentalize the momentary flooding of hormones in the physical contact of physical bodies in a physical world. Maybe that's why I much prefer Catullus's juvenile 'kissing arithemetic' poems to Neruda.

You ask, my Lesbia, how many of your kisses

are enough and more than enough for me.

As big a number as the Libyan sand-grains

that lie at asafoetida-bearing Cyrene

between the oracle of sultry Jupiter

and the sacred tomb of old Battus;

or as many stars, when the night is quiet,

see the secret loves of men.

So many kisses for mad Catullus to kiss you

are enough and more than enough,

which neither the curious can count

nor an evil tongue bewitch.

Catullus - Poem 7


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Your such an intellectual....

Though I have to admit, that is really a beautiful poem


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Great and enjoyable read, Jane, which I really did enjoy! Put me in mind of the silly old doggerel: "Kissing spreads disease, 'tis stated, but kiss me, kid, I'm vaccinated!"

Hope you're over the hangover by now!

Love and peace

Tony


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

I am...thanks Tony


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid

Hi Jane, this is a delicious hub, and it so happens to turn around two favorites of mine :-) I've linked you to my hub The Kiss, hope you don't mind, shout if you do please.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Elena..thankyou. Of course I don't mind!


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Turbulent drunkenness of love, as though there were any other kind? Thank you Jane for the introduction to whom I'm sure is the first Chilean poet I've ever read. Also for an in depth revisit to Rodin's The Kiss which I studied some in art school. This was an inspiring piece to read on my only day off and I thank you for the new angle.

Ben


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi Ben,

No there's no other kind. Neruda is great, so I'm really glad to have introduced him to you.

See ya....as we say in Australia


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

So you's an Aussie, I can't get enough of beautiful Austrailian gals, if I hadn't married a gorgeous Welsh-American I'd be line it down under to scoop up one of you sweet Southern hemisphere beauties!!!!

Ben


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

I wont argue with you Ben...we ARE special!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

when I read one of your hubs, Snow White, I feel like the dwarf - Happy!!!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Lol...epigramman, your gift for praise is unsurpassed!! Thankyou.


SOLAR383 6 years ago from BRADFORD UK

It sounds like I am going to enjoy a kiss more after reading your sensual poem but wish it was you...


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Well thanks solar383...I'll take that as a compliment!


alberich 6 years ago

What is a kiss?

A kiss is a mere carnal desire, only two lips that meet, along with tangled tongues, drenched in saliva and breaths. It is the first step in breeding, a worldly desire of bodies to convene. A ridiculously romanticized mark of affection. A past act of love without enduring value. A temptation to be confirmed in vain imaginings. An entirely meaningless social ritual.

And still just absolutely, utterly completely wonderful.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

It sure is! Thank for that.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

I must say with your world class unique views of art, culture and history both you and Arthur W. would be classified by yours truly as 'sexy intellectuals'

....and you (because this is your hubpage) are cut from a very fine cloth indeed!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

What a lovely thing to say, even though I'm not an intellectual..lol.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Nicely done, Jane.

There was a Rodin exhibition on at the town hall in Bathurst in the 1980s. I went to it. I was surprised at how small the Rodin statues on exhibit actually were. In books you imagine them to be huge.

I have a lot of time for Munch's The Scream. It is a favorite of Andrew Denton, a well known Australian commentator.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi Rod...I'm a Munch fan too, if only because it's such a great name. 'Course I like the art too. That's interesting about the Rodin's....was The Kiss there? I imagine that to be big, but maybe it's not.

Thanks for stopping by.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I believe the thinker was there. I can't remember if the kiss was there or not. I remember there were these incredible hands.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

This is a favorite statue of mine. Wonderfully written piece. Thanks for sharing this.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks Cheeky Girl..lovely to have you stop by.


recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago

Quality hub !!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks very much recommend1.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Beautiful hub, Ms Jane B- The Kiss is a special work of art to me. My mother bought one for my father because he was, among other things, an artist. That, along with the 'David' she brought from Italy, and the Thinker, were part of our middle class exposure to the world of art. I'm grateful for that and her insistence on visits to the museum, symphony, ballet, theatre, etc etc.

I'm not familiar with the poetry of Neruda, and am now intrigued. This poem you have included here is exquisite. I truly understand the combination of this poem with The Kiss.

It is wonderful to be in passion with another, a project, or LIFE...

Thanks for a great hub. Voted it up.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Denise, thanks for that lovely comment. Your mother had a good eye. If only she'd got the originals!

I'm really glad to have introduced you to Neruda, who I think is worth knowing about...and yes, those two works could have been made for each other.

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