How does Robert Grave’s The naked and the nude (1957) use concrete diction in order to draw a distinction between the naked and the nude

How does Robert Grave’s "The naked and the nude" (1957) use concrete diction in order to draw a distinction between "the naked" and "the nude" The true art is always far from reality, even though it addresses certain issues in metaphoric way, and Robert Grave confirms this statement by following the principle ‘to create art for its sake’. In his poem ‘The Naked and the Nude’ the author proves that poetic description might hide the sharpest angles of bitter truth.
The pure meaning of the poem seem to be hid under the code of tropes and poetic techniques, but the only apparent character inhabiting this piece of art completely is an eternal beholder, who interferes into the poetic flow. This character is embodied by lexicographers (l.1) and Gorgons "with long whips pursued" (l.24), who criticize, reduce and finally turn into stone everything they view as inappropriate of obscene. Nevertheless, the heart of the poem is the controversy between the naked and the nude. The first and probably initial meaning of nakedness is anatomical, as in the following synecdoche: "The Hippocratic eye will see In nakedness, anatomy" (ls. 3-4), but the secret meaning of the term is freedom, absence of shame and ignorance of scorn. Nudity, thus, points to the ‘social’ meaning of nakedness: "deficiency of dress" (4), prohibited and scorned by most people. The nude should be understood as those blaming and judging the naked with religious or moral values: "They grin a mock-religious grin Of scorn at those of naked skin" (17-18). Another meaning of nakedness is therefore the reception of scorn and hatred, addressed to both nudity and nakedness as indecent. When the person is nude, they feel themselves an anatomical pattern, a body, similar to other human bodies of the same gender, whereas nakedness indicates that each body is a unique and exceptional piece of art, as in the following metaphor : "And naked shines the Goddess when She mounts her lion among men" (11-12). The transition from naked to nude is clearly exemplified in Biblical texts, in particular, in Adam and Eve’s story: they have been naked and haven’t experienced any shame because of the absence of clothes, but once they eat the forbidden fruit, the man and the woman realize they are nude, so they must feel embarrassment because of physical exposedness.
When comparing my perceptions of both terms, I have noticed that ‘naked’ seem ‘stronger’ and ‘more radical’, whereas ‘nude’ is obviously associated with religious morality. Naked person, in Grave’s understanding, are more powerful, as they possess the knowledge that their bodies are not merely a tool, but also a goal and a source of inspiration -in this sense, they become similar to the aforementioned Goddess ruling over humans and animals. On the contrary, nudity, figuratively speaking, shrinks personality, makes them feel inferior, humiliated and scorned, and reduces the natural beauty of body to its physical function so that is possible to "hold each treasonable eye" (14). Nakedness is a genuine human purity, because body is the most natural part of each human-being, yet the society tends to distort this understanding and reduce nakedness to nudity, to the state of being undressed. This controversy is determined by artificial polarity of these synonyms, and the main technique employed by the poet in order to show this division is a contrast. It is noticeable when Grave uses the most appropriate words to describe nakedness: "naked shines" (11). "naked and ablaze" (8), and nudity: "The nude are bold, the nude are sly" (13). "They grin a mock-religious grin" (17). As one might assume, nakedness shine, while nudity grins , i.e. nakedness is nave, but powerful, whereas nudity is bold and intolerant.
To sum up, nakedness and nudity are described not merely as the states of body, but also as the specific shapes of soul, either freedom and acceptance or prejudice and fanaticism. In the poem, the terms are contrasted and compared with the use of metaphor and synecdoche, which enrich the style and provide a clear transition from figurative to literal meaning.
Works cited
Grave, R. The Naked and the Nude. Available at:, 1999