Erato: Muse of Sensual Poetry

Erato guides us through exotic realms, where nothing is as simple as it seems.

By Molly Anderson | Posted 2/7/06 | 9/22/23

Grab a blank notebook and a pen, and hold on tight! We're about to enter the Garden of Earthly Delights. Erato, the Athenian Muse of Erotic Poetry, will be our guide through this exotic realm, where nothing is as simple as it seems.

Writing about the erotic can be difficult (Not to mention controversial!), dark, scary, and ultimately, a lot of fun! Erato encourages us to express our desires with juicy verbs, ripe-for-the-picking adjectives, and inventive details. Her gifts are many — a new way to see and sense the world; a new way to write about it; skill with images, mysteries, and metaphors; and a discovery of the sensual side of the arts.

Recipe for a Passionate Poem

You can create a hot, spicy haiku or a fun free-verse poem with a few simple ingredients. Start with a session of free-association about your subject. This will help you to create a pool of possible words to choose from when writing your poem. I chose to work with a kiss for this article; you can choose any subject you like. To begin, I simply wrote, "A Kiss," and then wrote down a few words that popped into my head when I thought of kissing — sensual, rich words like delicious, luscious, electric, intoxication, ecstasy, and hot.

Next, add a list of words that describe colors — crimson, scarlet, cadmium, gold, honey, peach, sunset-pink, and lipstick red. Then, steal some words from your favorite cookbook or a menu from that romantic Italian restaurant downtown — sizzling, drenched, spicy, piping-hot, cinnamon, sweet, boiling over, simmer slow.

Look through an old magazine with a pair of scissors in hand. Cut out any interesting words that speak to your theme — passion, beauty, adventure, new, promises, forever, lovely, star, fabulous, wish. Next, cut out all the words you wrote down in your notebook, one by one. Mix them all up together and try to create a poem. You can stop to add new words to the word-pool any time you think of one — or ask a friend for suggestions! You can trade words back and forth or collaborate on a poem, writing something together. Here is the poem I created:

The Kiss

O lovely passion,
Ripe purple sizzling electric crimson and magenta
It simmers low,
Then boils and bubbles over.
Hot, rich, succulent, spicy —
Delicious intoxication
Luscious plums full and ripe with new promise.

Sensual Description

The key to juicy writing lies in sensual description — rich, original detail gleaned by a close attention to all of your senses. Whether you're writing an erotic poem or something entirely different, sensual description can improve even your best work. It involves sensing the world around us; using all of our senses to create a fully-felt piece of work.

Too often, the visual sense is the only one employed to describe the erotic realm. We are told how something looks, not how it tastes, or how it feels beneath the writer's fingertips. Try this: describe an object without ever naming it, using all five senses. Then, read it to a partner and ask him to guess what it is. Following is my sensual description — can you guess what I'm writing about?


Sense of Sight: Hot passionate redheads with long green legs, an even dozen of them standing stiff and tall in a cut-glass vase. Beware the sharp thorns, they look wicked!

Sense of Touch: Silky-smooth the petals, the waxy leaves protecting. Long, slender, graceful stems…oh! Aching, stinging, scorching thorns sharp as teeth!

Sense of Smell: All fresh green lawns and gardens, a smell of summer, a whiff of corsages pinned on a formal dress by an awkward boy. A smell of passion and promises.

Sense of Hearing: They rustle stiffly together in florists' paper, then drop and plop wetly into a thick vase full of ice-cold water.

Sense of Taste: Their hips are mouth-puckering, sour and full of vitamin C. The petals are divine when dipped in chocolate. The leaves taste of beauty and pain. The thorns taste of my blood, hot crimson salty-sweet elixir of the damned.

What is it? A bouquet of red, red roses. If your partner can't guess what you were describing, try again. The object is not to create some sort of riddle, but to describe your subject so well that one cannot help but guess what you're writing about.

Sensual description is sure to change and deepen your work; so, too, will it change the way you live your life. One who is merely seeing the world is truly limiting and crippling their potential for a fully-lived life. Living fully, sensually, is a gift; it allows us to dig our hands deep down into the soul of each moment, and there find treasures untold.

Next: Making Marvelous New Music with Euterpe

©2006 Molly Anderson. All rights reserved.