where the writers are
Writing a Sex Scene

In August, I am teaching a class on writing sex scenes for UCLA Extension. Yes, this seems like a very bold thing to try to teach, as a sex scene is difficult to write and you might be wondering what my area of expertise is in this field.

And wouldn’t you just like to know. Really? You would? Okay, I will tell you.

But first, a couple of books you all need to read if you are, in fact, going to write sex scenes. The first is The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict.

Basically, her idea is that good writing is good writing. Sex is the basis of character exploration and forwarding plot. So do all that the way you do anything in fiction. With detail, specifics, and feeling. Avoid clichés. Don’t rely on the known and pat.And she manages to tell us all that with verve and with great examples.

The second book is a book every fiction writer should read: The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield. I wish it had been around when I started writing fiction. This little book shows us all how to contain action. How to box in the movement so that it carries import, idea, character, theme. I would assign it to every writer if I had the ability. Such good information there.

So—how do I get off (yuck, yuck) teaching a sex scene? The first is that when I moved over to romance writing, I promised myself that I would not wander into the land of the gigantic male parts and strange euphemism female parts. I would not have this sex being like a nuclear explosion that changes the course of all known history. I read a few such sex scenes, one that remains in my memory. I truly can’t remember the writer or the book, but the sex act occurred on a run-away stallion (anyone for a metaphor?). The hero and heroine were literally having the most amazing sex of their lives while this horse went full tilt down some mountain.

I almost fell off my chair with laughter. They end up at some frozen lake, snow everywhere, and still manage to have absolutely mind blowing sex of all time. A few times. In the snow, the horse looking on.

Listen, I can’t even stay on a horse, so the idea of managing multiple orgasms while a horse runs away just about had me calling the Guinness Book of World Records.

Romance writing has an arc of plot, somethings that need to happen. I often think of romance novels needing the--hi, how are you sex, the oh-we-can't-be-together-for-long-if-at-all sex, the thank-god-we-made-it-through-we-will-be-together-forever sex. Story over. But even with that arc, I hold true to the following below.

So my tack was this. Stay with the plot and stay with the feelings. While in a romance the hero and heroine HAVE to end up together, it doesn’t have to be a circus act. The sex arrives out of their connection or growing connection.

And then—stay “in” the body. Don’t focus on the body itself. We don’t have to look at the parts but feel the parts. And sex doesn’t have to be in the genitals but in fingers and rib cages and toes. Things don’t have to be literally explained, either. As one writing teacher told me, avoid fluids. I am big on avoiding fluids. There are enough fluids everywhere, so can we please stay with the feelings?

In other stories, sex isn’t always good. The feelings aren’t always wonderful. Bad sex has its place in literary fiction. When characters have bad sex, it helps explain what is going on with them in the story. It shows their inability to connect.

The one scene I really liked in the Sex and the City film was one where the character Miranda is having sex with her husband Steve. They are enjoying it, and she says, “Can’t we just get it over with.”

Wow. Talk about a bucket of water. And it worked toward showing how their relationship was moving along. Or not moving.Literally.

So in a nutshell, for romance or literary fiction: Remember you are writing a scene, a bit of action contained in a box. Use the characters and the plot to inform the type of sex scene you write. Stay in the body, don’t focus on the body. Try using alternative body parts to explain the sex. It’s not all about part A fits into part B. Avoid fluids, stay with the feelings. Make the sex realistic to the relationship the characters have with each other.

Now the handouts. Sex scenes from the following novels:

Into the Forest--Jean Hegland writes a sex scene between sisters, and it works

Animal Dreams--Barbara Kingsolver wrote later that she wished she’d shown the sex between Loyd and Codi—see where she chickened out.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover—see what we owe this classic and DH Lawrence.

Dream Boy—see how sex is power and lust and plot and abuse in this scene by Jim Grimsley.

Beloved—sex as metaphor. Corn was never as sexy. Morrison rocks.

Traveling Light—Katrina Kittle writes a lovely sex scene between two men witnessed by the sister of one of the men. So important to the character’s growth and plot

35 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

I remember that love scene in Beloved...

I didn't get it until we explained it in class. I think I blushed.

Oh, and we can't forget the scene with Gone With The Wind where Rhett carries Scarlett up and then she's a happy clam in the morning. Plus Judith Krantz, whoo boy! She wrote some scorchers!

Comment Bubble Tip

There are so many

great sex scene. I hope others suggest more. I do like that up the stairs moment in gone with the wind.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

I'll have you know I can

I'll have you know I can write a steamy sex scene too! I'll have you know!

From Vengeance is Mine. :)


“I understand,” Lisa said, unfolding the blazer. “One final touch, and you'll be ready for Lady Esquire! Navy blue is a trust color.” She helped Venny into the jacket, buttoned the lower button, and patted her broad shoulders approvingly. “I'd hire you in a second!”
Venny glanced at her reflection in the living room mirror. “I look like a United Airlines ticket agent!”
“United Airlines is out of business, Venny,” Lisa reminded her.
“And now we both know why.”
Lisa shook her head in disbelief. “Boy! You're something else. You look perfect.”
Venny flashed a hideous smirk.
“Well, you did look perfect.” Lisa scrutinized Venny's face. “Hmm. You could probably use some lipstick or something.”
“Should I wear Navy blue lipstick? Navy blue is a trust color. You just told me that.”
“Well, I don't think even the CIA is into Gothic, Venny. Let's try out some red. You'll look patriotic--white blouse, blue blazer, red lips.”
“Oh goody!” Venny swooned. “Do I get to flap in the breeze?”
“Only after you get the job.” Lisa dove into her purse and emerged with a tube of red lipstick. She applied a dab to Venny's plump lower lip and smeared it around with her pinky. Venny pinched Lisa's cheek, and shook it.
“You ol' devil, you! Are you just going to fondle my lips, or are you gonna kiss me like you mean it?”
“I'm not that desperate yet, Venny,” Lisa said, rolling her eyes. “Now quit flapping your gums; I can't paint a moving target.”
Venny complied.
Lisa furrowed her brow. "I don't think red is working. You need something a little more—or rather less—um—less--um...”
“Allow me,” Venny interrupted. “I believe the term we're groping for is 'whore-like.' I think I agree. I should probably avoid the whore motif thing, at least until I'm hired.”
“Right, Venny,” Lisa said, rolling her eyes again. “Tell you what. Let's forget the lipstick for now. It's a little tricky to get the tones right, especially if you're Chinese. We have very subtle tones.”
“Ahh. That's me. Subtle in every way,” Venny said, nodding in agreement. “Am I done yet?”
Lisa sighed. "Yes, you may go now. Ple-e-e-e-ase!"

Comment Bubble Tip

Gone with the Wind

Good example you chose using Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, because the ongoing relationship between Rhett and Scarlett peaks with that all important scene. It's the turning point for both characters. I turned to that relationship in my novel, Aspen's Indigo Twilight (Solstice Publishing, 2012), for inspiration in crafting a complex sexual pairing that covers many years. There are so many situations that lead to sexual encounters; first sex, make up sex, coming back together after a long break sex, just to mention a few, any of which can be critical in moving the story forward and creating the tension between characters that is necessary to make the story work. Although often dismissed as a popular fiction author, Mitchell understood these same dynamics of sexual relationships that Shakespeare utilized between Antony and Cleopatra. Ambition and sex make for natural bed partners.

Comment Bubble Tip

Gotta write to your reading audience!


Surely you're aware that you slant your blog to veritably equate writing sex scenes  with writing "how the sex scene goes from the woman's (women's) perspective who's reading the scene." And one of your lines made me laugh because it reminded me of a old one-liner.  You say, "Sex isn’t always good.  The feelings aren’t always wonderful. "

Well, most boys are told in their early teens  usually by slightly older and much wiser lads that, "When sex is good, it's sooooo good. But when it's bad....hell! It's still pretty good."

(Ha!) For better or worse, too many of us males continue to believe that for the rest of our lives.

Comment Bubble Tip

Have you read On Chesil Beach?

Give it a go for a man's POV.  It's BAD sex, and yet, even while it is physical, it is still horrible.  Awful.  Very bad sex, even though it occurs slightly.  That character would not agree with "it's pretty good."


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

These are great writing suggestions

I've been trying all afternoon to think of other examples of great sex scenes in literature. I can think of some BAD ones.... actually, there's an annual British contest for those. Some are by some amazing writers.

Here's a link to the shortlisted passages of Bad Sex scenes for 2007. Prepare to giggle and cringe. http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2217735,00.html

Comment Bubble Tip

Thank YOU!!

I laughed and cringed!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

One problem with Lear: No Sex Scenes

Great stuff Jessica. I love D. H. Lawrence. I am trying to i.d. scenes by male authors to add to your list. Hemingway is an interesting example. Toni Morrison has a very smart and insightful essay on him that just might catapult To Have and Have Not up the charts. She also writes about The Garden of Eden and I remember sex scenes in that one. Trouble is when he is good he is oblique and when he is bad he is a parody of himself and now its hard not to read him as a parody of himself--a victim of success. Its odd really because nobody is better at describing physical experience: eating, drinking, etc. I will have to give it more thought.

Comment Bubble Tip

My son started

reading For Whom the Bell Tolls while he was home, and we had a long talk about Hemingway. I still can read him without think about the contests paraodying him. The Garden of Eden was pretty wild, though I think it had Tom Jenks all over it, if I'm not mistaken.

Gay male writers--because for a while it was forbidden to write about sex--learned to work in the text and subtext of sex. EM Forster and Maurice is an example. The LONGING, which is so much of sex, is a huge element of the "sex" in that story. It's not as Dennis says, and any sex is good, either.

Keep your thinking cap on!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip



I didn't say all sex is good! I cited a one-liner that says, "When sex is bad...Hell! it's still pretty good."  And that's a "qualified" good--a joke that's oriented toward males. If you must quote me as saying all sex is good, repeat the whole joke...When sex is good, it's sooooo good. But when it's bad...it's still pretty good.  The obviously intended humor therein is vindicating.

Comment Bubble Tip


I know completely what you mean. I've read a lot of things in my life, including fanfiction and it really shows just who the writer is in the sex scenes. It shows if the writer is uncomfortable writing it, or has no experience which is sad, when you decide to venture in to such a thing. I myself have tried writing sex scenes, following the lead of some  that I've read, but I just can't seem to find my own way, it's difficult. Mostly the people write about the act, I don't do that as much, as I prefer writing in the first or second person, I try to capture the feeling more then the act, but I simply don't think that it's done then, I don't know, it's confusing to say the least.

I've seen Sex and the City and know the scene, it was so funny, just shows how much things can change in a relationship, or if the relationship is right or not. Sometimes we want things simply because we can't have them and when we end up having them, we lose interest.

My husband and I have a healthy relationship, even if we didn't really get to have any 'action' what with the recent birth of our twins and then my car accident, but don't dictate it on how many times we have sex or not. Basically I think that is also imporatnt when writing a sex scene, the frequenter the sex, it can also say something about a relationship, maybe a lack of communication. 

Comment Bubble Tip

Sex Scene Writing

Your guidance may serve for 'romance fiction' but is, I think, wholly inappropriate for literary fiction. Dangerously so, even. Your discouraging of genitalia, for instance, is an overturning of the liberating achievement of no less a literary giant than D.H.Lawrence, who, you seem to forget, bravely and movingly, and quite necessarily, described the  physical characteristics of Mellors' organs - in direct opposition to your estimation of what is appropriate for literary sex scene writing. The purpose of literature is to explore and express that profundity we call the human condition. Part of that condition is that we possess genitals and emit fluids; consequently they fall under the remit of literary investigation and meditation, and are not the sole property of mindless pornographic trash. Anything a writer experiences he or she has the right to write about, which includes the entirety of the organism of which he or she is constituted. If we were to adopt your idea of what is acceptable in literature, we'd have to dismiss whole swathes of Rabelais, Joyce, Lawrence, Bataille and Henry Miller to name but a few, and deter new writers who aspire to a similar breadth of vision. Is this really what you're advocating? Also, I do find it odd that in advice which pertains to be not only  for commercial writers but also literary writers, you refer us first to 'Sex in the City' before any of the great writers of the past.

Comment Bubble Tip

Didyou look at my

Didyou look at my handouts--literary, mostly.  I think we can say to each his own, yes?

You seem a little angry about all of this, and I wonder why.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

it is figurative …

“WRITING A SEX SCENE" the good, nice has begun … if figuratively, future mother Let's admit can not to know about biology or about physiology, but is born beautiful and healthy the child … it is figurative …

Comment Bubble Tip

I want to learn

Well, I think I want to be a writter, I mean I don't know yet... I'm still young. I write fanfiction, and more than once I have written sex scenes, and I have quite a few fans now, they all say I'm a good writter and love the stories I write. I really want to know more about sex scene writting because I think I can be pretty good at it. I wish there was more on this subject, because I didn't really understand it, plus my first language isn't english, but I can't write in my mother language Spanish, it just doesn't come to me. So if you know where I can get more information and can help me, it would really be great.

Comment Bubble Tip

There are many good writing

There are many good writing bookson the topic, but I would go to the book I mention at the beginning of this blog post--The Joy of Writing Sex by  Elizabeth Benedict.  A great place to start!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

Just found this blog

Wow, Jessica, you started the world most exciting debate on writing Sex Scenes.  What an educational blog this is for writers.  Thank you all for the stimulating discussions.

“Let’s Make Love,” was the topic of our discussion the other night.  The Japanese classmates of my Beatles’ class were talking about Marylyn Monroe’s movie.  One member asked me, “What does the title really mean?”  So I interpreted it for them.  To my direct reply, they wowed and turned quiet.  I said, “It doesn’t sound nasty.  It is healthy.  It has warmth to it.  Besides, titles need to captivate audience.  You don’t say that to men and women the first time you meet, of course.”   One man said, “Hmm.”  Another man wrinkled his nose and said, “Is that right?”  And others look somewhere else. 

I don’t need to defend Japanese.  Healthy Japanese procreated generations of healthy Japanese.  But we feel differently from words. 

And originally the word love didn’t exist in the Japanese language.  I forgot exact period the word “Ai” (love) was introduced from the Chinese language.  The book I read mentioned that Chinese probably created the word 愛 because of their early contact with Christianity: Love of God.  Two words, receive(受) and heart(心), juxtaposed in construction of Ai.  So I’m sure you find no 愛 in the original text of Genji Monogatari. 

I don’t know when the equivalent Japanese word to sex came into the Japanese language, but the word sounds so drastic to us if it is spoken in ordinary conversations.  So the modern Japanese use the English word, sex, to discuss about it because we feel light. 

I’m getting readership to my red room blog here in Japan, so pretty soon Japanese will be reading your sex scenes’ discussion.  They might ask me later on, about what was the debate.  Gee, I don’t know if I have enough vocabularies to explain.


Comment Bubble Tip

I love the idea, Keiko, that

I love the idea, Keiko, that folks in Japan will be reading redroom and this blog!  But I will leave all the translation of vocabulary up to you!



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

nice article !


i'm just a new member i just found this article by chance !


but liked the idea actually i can't write in this because my english not good because my home language is not english but i try learnning myself

but i think i can start as you say in your article  i hope i found the time for this



Comment Bubble Tip

Writing Sex Scenes

Well, Jessica,

This thread has staying power.

The most challenging scene in my (as yet unagented but getting close) novel was the initial sex scene. I wanted my readers to finish the chapter, close the book and say to themselves, I want that guy in MY bed. They are indeed tricky. I didn't want purplish porn, nor coy gauzy euphemisms. Refused to use the word thrust anywhere. Dished up some laughter as well. The sex healed; it was a vehicle for new emotional patterns. (My husband loved the research.) Now when I read it I blanch a bit. Best comment came from my daughter (college senior) when she finished the novel. "Great bedroom scene, Mom but we do not have to discuss it."

Jean Hegland's sister scene was magnificent. What a book!

Thanks for the two references.  Will check them out.


Comment Bubble Tip

I realized the staying power

I realized the staying power of this blog when I found it posted on different blogs and referenced on the net.  I have been very surprised!  It's actually kind of scary to see it floating out there.

In any case, I am with you on the research aspect (fun!) and with the idea that the sex has to be part of the character development and the plot, regardless of what genre one writes in.  Of course, porn and erotica have different goals than "fiction," and often a different reading audience--one who wants a specific result from the reading:  excitement.

Yes, Jean Hegland is amazing.  That novel is amazing, one of the best I read in years.  I didn't know about it until about a year ago, so I was so happily surprised to get it and know about it.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

Finally, someone who can

Finally, someone who can help me out in this field. I'm part of the fandom/fanfiction community, and seldom get good advice as to how to write a sex scene.  And being somewhat practically inexperienced, I find it hard to imagine how sex scenes go. For me, its all about, "They've kissed and touched, now what? How to make it moderately long without being tedious or keep it from ending too quickly?" With me the biggest problem is that where I come from, we're a pretty conservative people so sex is just something you quietly talk about with your girlfriends. So there's just not enough how-tos out there that can set up basic guidelines for writing a romantic scene.

Your idea of romance novels made me laugh. I find it amazing that so many writers are famous for such novels, Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, Judith McNaught. It's all just the same really, I've read them all and yet for osme reason, they're famous. And they all have the typical cliches that you mentioned avoiding as well! I have to fight to resist the urge to highlight crappy parts and mock them with other people just because you can't help what you love to write. Of course the hi, how are you sex, the oh-we-can't-be-together-for-long-if-at-all sex, the thank-god-we-made-it-through-we-will-be-together-forever sex is just-i don't know what to say really.

Either way, you've truly been very helpful. I'll be sure to look up the books you mentioned. At least, the more tamely named books. In case a family member stumbles across them. That would be awkward now wouldn't it?

Comment Bubble Tip

firstly, I have to say, I

firstly, I have to say, I had no idea this blog would get such play.  This was something I wrote up before my class, off the cuff, based on my ideas but not really the end all of my knowledge or feelings on sex scene writing.  I think that this is a varied topic, a scene that can take a variety of forms and patterns.

What I have here is based on my romance writing and my other fiction writing.  What I have here works for me, and it's what I also like to read in a sex scene.

I don't think anyone would look askance at your having Toni Morrison's novel Beloved in your book shelf, much less anything else I have on the list.

You are safe.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

fluids and feelings

People sure are interested in sex scenes. Surprise (NOT)!

As the creator of guided journals, I'm so glad I just write the questions and let the journal users write as much or little about their sex lives as they want. And only the people they choose to show the journal to read what they write. 

But I do like your advice to avoid fluids and stay with the feelings...


Comment Bubble Tip


Journals and fiction are very differnt things.  I imagine journals as something I would keep for myself, letting myself write whatever I felt like, fluids or no.  Fiction, I think, follows different rules, has different readers, and some of the above works well there.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip



Comment Bubble Tip

thank you! (I

thank you! (I think!)


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

Brothel rooms as possible settings for your sex scenes.

My blog item for Oct. 15, 2008---inside a German brothel.

Comment Bubble Tip

No Right or Wrong Way!

I would like to elaborate on my earlier comment or rather clarify.

As a writer, I don't think that there's a right or a wrong way to write a sex scene.  I think its all in the presentation and knowing whats right for your characters.  I agree with what you're saying.  Romance Fiction should be more about the feelings, especially the sex scenes.  Genitalia only bogs it down and makes it trashy.

But on the other hand, Steven Harvey makes a valid point in that letting it all hang out in Literary Fiction could make the writing more powerful.  Tastefully done of course.

So really, there are no restrictions when it comes to writing.  Just good or bad writers.

Comment Bubble Tip

What about Sheldon?

After reading Catherine Coulter romances since I was in my early teens, I have been utterly facinated with adult romances. Strangely enough, my "hobby" seemed to capture my 9th grade English Teacher's interest. She took me aside and handed me "Master of the Game" by Sidney Sheldon. Now, not only is this a fantastic book in it self, the sex scenes seemed to be happening right in front of me. The movie-like pictures this man described were absolutely amazing and ever since then, I've stood by him as a fan and also as (hopefully) a future novelist, myself.

Comment Bubble Tip

Good subject

A friend and I were talking about writing sex scenes last week and I had mentioned to him how hesitant I was when my book went to press because I was really concerned about how people reading it would react—if they would be turned off by the graphic sex scenes and explicit language. But as I mentioned to him, the scenes had to be written the way they were to dissect and develop the main character (a sex addict) and move the story forward otherwise they could easily be perceived as gratuitous or marketed pornography.

Comment Bubble Tip

Sex scene POV

I just finished my first thriller. The POV is primarily from a female protagonist. There are two consummated sex scenes, one with another female, one with a male.

Though neither scene depicts penetration (or any throbbing members), writing from a woman's point of view was a significant challenge.

By concentrating on attraction, foreplay and afterglow, I hope I created two physically explicit love scenes versus sex scenes (My agent says I succeeded and suggested I add a third scene.) We'll see.

Comment Bubble Tip

T.S. Eliot's Objective Correlatives and Sexual Descriptions

Jessica and all interested others,

  Perhaps you're familiar with T.S. Eliot's "objective correlatives" (in theory and practice) for communicating the essence of any experience (sexual or otherwise) having  multiple "threads" of feelings, mental images and physical sensations all woven into one intense event (e.g., orgasm). From reading your and your colleagues'  blogs here, I believe such  image correlatives are  what you feel  will best communicate this most intense of human experiences. As several  bloggers noted in agreement,  the worst technique, from the perspective of imaginative richness, is to simply describe sexual mechanics, unless one's purpose is purely pornographic.

A basic, simple illustration of Eliot's objective correlatives is this line from McLeish's poem "Ars Poetica":  "For love, the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea."  Those images are a rich "mine" indeed for one's imagination to revel in!!

For richer textures of objective correlatives, see (1) Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and (2) Wallace Stevens'  "Sunday Morning" ("ambiguous undulations as they sink downward toward darkness on extended wings" ) These  images make one's imagination soar! Exactly what you want to aim for in description of a sex scene, right?






Comment Bubble Tip

Using Images to Convey The Essence of Intense Experiences

For anyone interested, one of the most powerful  and moving short works of art in which images convey intense archetypal experience (sexual or otherwise) is Galway Kinnell's poem "First Song".  It describes an Illinois farm boy and his two friends, exhausted ("sapped") after a long day of physical labor, finding release and self-expression (clearly artistic but also hinting obliquely at adolescent sexual awakenings) by scraping together cornstalks treated with resins to create   makeshift stringed instruments for playing music. 

 You can read the full poem in my posting on  JM's Cornwell's blog "What's in it for boys?" The images clearly point to the boys' initiation into and discovery of the "two-edged sword" of experiencing joy in self-expression (artistic, sexual, etc), namely its obvious  joy or pleasure balanced with a darkness and sadness often experienced in the aftermath/let-down of any  intense revelatory experience as a result of (1) spent energy ("expense of spirit") and satiation, (2) increased awareness of life's sobering realities and  (3) a return to a  more boring state of  normal consciousness, even more boring now after having experienced a "peak" moment.   One main reason  why experiencng "peak moments" can become so addictive is that the return to the norm is dreaded more each time.

 It's the age-old truth (fall from innocence) that with increased experience, self-awareness and knowledge inevitably also come increased existential  anxieties and sadness, as reflected in Thomas Gray's line apparently based on his observations of innocent schoolboys at play, "If ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

 Note, especially the image below of a "boy's hunched body loving out a stalk the first song of his happiness."

Final Stanza of Galway Kinnell's "First Song"  collapsed into compacted form below (slash lines mark the poem's line divisions)

"It was now fine music the frogs and the boys/Did in the towering Illinois twilight make/And into dark in spite of a shoulder's ache/A boy's hunched body loved out of a stalk/The first song of his happiness and the song awoke/His heart to the darkness and into the sadness of joy." [ Copyright by Galway Kinnell, quote permitted under standard rules for using short quotes in literary analysis or criticism]

Talk about  intensely moving images of a primal human experience captured in the context of our existential human condition (fallen or otherwise in the phrase "and into dark in spite of a shoulder's ache")!!  This poem conveys  it all in just a few powerfully  imagistic lines. It  has especially intense personal meaning for me because of my own adolescent experiences growing up as a farm boy.

 It's almost or maybe equally moving as Milton's  image of Adam and Eve ("They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, through Eden took their solitary way") in his closing lines of Paradise Lost. These are truly "great moments" in art and human experience. And sex does have its GREAT MOMENTS!! (even though now in my senior years, they're mainly ones "recollected in tranquility.")

Humorous P.S.:  Anyone else out there, especially  older males, find it as humorously relevant as I do, these lines from a recently popular country song:  "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good ONCE as I ever was." Or does it apply to  older females' sexual experiences (longer "recovery" time, shall we call it) as well?