Brother to Dragons is a poem that turns chiefly upon guilt over racism and slavery, but many of its most intense passages concern sexual guilt. The poem returns obsessively to the subject of sex because sex provides it with a way of thinking about how the highest and lowest aspect of human nature are inextricably bound together in it. The inextricable duality of love is a model for a similar inextricable duality the poem discusses in political idealism. The way the desire for purity shades into sadism is a model for the ways efforts to purify the political world also come to grief.
"Purity, Panic, and Pasiphaë in Brother to Dragons,"
Robert Penn Warren Studies: Vol. 5, Article 16.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/rpwstudies/vol5/iss1/16