Ample Hills

The erotics of ice cream in The Paris Review.


In “The Emperor of Ice Cream” (1922), Wallace Stevens invoked ice cream, with its “concupiscent curds,” as a symbol of eros triumphant—and in so doing, invented a genre: the modern ice-cream sex poem. Today, in honor of National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, we bring you two lesser-known examples from the Review’s archive.

In George MacBeth’s “Eating Ice-Cream with a Girl,” from our Winter–Spring 1962 issue, a park bench becomes the staging ground for a Lawrentian battle of libidos, with a little help from ice cream: 

Her pink tongue, like a cat’s,
Darts out, licks,
Lingering on the cream.

Smiling a little, I watch
Her cross her legs, concerned
Only with what she eats.

In Thom Gunn’s “Sweet Things,” from our Summer 1979 issue, the speaker compares a childlike hunger for ice cream to his own hunger for sexual conquest:

We know delay makes pleasure great.
In our eyes, on our tongues,
we savor the approaching delight
of things we know yet are fresh always.

To read an ice-cream memento mori or a shaved-ice fantasia, or anything else from our sixty-four-year archive, subscribe now–and while you’re at it, savor the approaching delight of four new issues.

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