I would like to know what "There was so much I could not get enough of, so much I would never be able to grasp or possess, no matter how much I tried." means in the following sentences:

You smelled of water and pines. There was softness, and there was hardness. I could sense your tan under my fingertips, and with your strong, solid hands you drew me afresh, creating me, the small of my back, my inner thighs … and you. Your back, your chest, your stomach, your thighs, your cock. Hard and impossibly close beneath the softness of your briefs, caressing my palm, obvious, world-shattering, demanding. We moved fervently, struggling. There was so much I could not get enough of, so much I would never be able to grasp or possess, no matter how much I tried. And I tried, we tried. Covering ourselves with each other, merging into one, pulling, following the pull, letting its current take over. Our sighs were shared, refused to release us. The night reminded me of the Easter bonfires I would watch as a child in the park nearby, where the pyramid of wood burned from top to bottom, chasing the ghosts of winter, bringing a thaw, releasing the warmth from the dormant, the resting. The flames would hypnotise me. I’d merge with them, with their dancing, destroying, and bearing. We played this struggle, breathless and elated, heads light and filled and spinning, until exhaustion, until we released ourselves on to each other and fell asleep entangled like weeds.

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he went to the agricultural camp (which was mandatory for college graduation). At the camp, he met Janusz, who would soon become his lover. After the camp, Ludwik decided to go to a lake district with Janusz. They finally arrived at the lake district, and stayed by the lake for some days after pitching their tent. During their stay, they made love with each other.

In this part, I wonder what "so much" means. Does it mean perhaps the narrator felt that there was so much desire that he would not be able to grasp it (fulfill it) forever? Or would that mean he felt the concept of love was so grand that he thought he would not be able to possess it? Or is it probably a talk about possessing one's partner, that one might never possess the other...?

I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)

1 Answer 1


The two young men have been attracted to each other for some time and are now getting more intimate with each other. I think the bolded sentence describes the feeling of not getting quite "close" enough. A few sentences later, the narrator describes how he "merged" with the flames of the Easer bonfires. Now with his lover, he wants to experience this same feeling, but this time of merging with another person. But this feeling does not quite reach the level he is hoping for; this level expressed through the words "so much I would never be able to grasp or possess"; it is somehow beyond reach, this is why he does "not get enough of" it, he desires more.

The words "no matter how much I tried" refer to the love making that attempts to achieve this feeling of merging with each other.

  • Dear Tsundoku, thank you so much for the explanation. Then the narrator was trying to achieve the merging he had experienced with the bonfires! Then, as for "there was so much," would it be alright to understand that the reason he couldn't satisfactorily merge with his lover as he did with the bonfires would be his lover's presence was so grand and big to hold...? Dec 19, 2020 at 8:28
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    The narrator is comparing a feeling that only exists in his childhood memories with the feeling he has with his lover. Childhood memories can easily be distorted into something bigger than they actually were, since literal merging with fire is not possible (or at least not without getting serious burns). So he is comparing his experience with his lover with the memory of an idealised experience. This has nothing to do with the lover being "grand and big", since the passage does not describe features of the lover that do not meet expectations; the comparison is in the narrator's mind.
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 19, 2020 at 9:30
  • Dear Tsundoku, thank you very much for the additional explanation. So the narrator was feeling that he couldn't get close enough to his lover to the extent that it is satisfactory to him. Probably "so much" here refers to the narrator's thirst towards love, his exasperation or disappointment regarding the fact he could not narrow the distance with his lover satisfactorily. I sincerely appreciate your help. :) Dec 21, 2020 at 7:57

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