What does the fifth stanza in "Ode to a Beautiful Nude" mean?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a poem in praise of the female form and as the speaker in this poem gazes upon the nude who the poem is dedicated to, the tone of wonder, awe and amazement is clear as he contemplates what is to him such pure and unfettered beauty. The whole poem therefore is based around trying to describe this form and the beauty that it holds. In the fourth stanza, for example, the speaker questions of what substance the body of the nude consists to make it react in the light as it does. This leads us into the fifth stanza:

It is not so much light that falls
over the world
extended by your body
its suffocating snow,
as brightness, pouring itself out of you,
as if you were
burning inside.

In this stanza, the poem is talking about the kind of luminescence of the beautiful nude and the way that light seems to be emitted by her body. He describes the whiteness of her skin as "suffocating snow," with the alliteration helping to add impact to this powerful metaphor that is designed to intensifty the whiteness. The speaker clarifies that the nude does not reflect the light of the sun, but rather gives out a "brightness" from inside of her that creates the impression that she is glowing.

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