Thom Gunn

Thom Gunn Poems

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who'd showed us in the end
To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
...

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
...

The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows
Some hidden purpose, and the gush of birds
That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,
Have nested in the trees and undergrowth.
...

I am too young to grow a beard
But yes man it was me you heard
In dirty denim and dark glasses.
I look through everyone who passes
...

I wake up cold, I who
Prospered through dreams of heat
Wake to their residue,
Sweat, and a clinging sheet.
...

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
...

It mounts at sea, a concave wall
Down-ribbed with shine,
And pushes forward, building tall
Its steep incline.
...

Cats met us at
the landing-place
reclining in the sun
to check us in
...

I shall not soon forget
The greyish-yellow skin
To which the face had set:
Lids tights: nothing of his,
...

In the silence that prolongs the span
Rawly of music when the record ends,
The red-haired boy who drove a van
In weekday overalls but, like his friends,
...

Mr Pierce the butcher
Got news his son was missing
About a month before
The closing of the war.
...

He died, and I admired
the crisp vehemence
of a lifetime reduced to
half a foot of shelf space.
...

I stand upon a hill and see
A luminous country under me,
Through which at two the drunk sailor must weave;
The transient's pause, the sailor's leave.
...

Though night is always close, complete negation
Ready to drop on wisdom and emotion,
Night from the air or the carnivorous breath,
Still it is right to know the force of death,
...

Two dumpy women with buns were drinking coffee
In a narrow kitchen—at least I think a kitchen
And I think it was whitewashed, in spite of all the shade.
They were flat brown, they were as brown as coffee.
...

16.

Your dying was a difficult enterprise.
First, petty things took up your energies,
The small but clustering duties of the sick,
Irritant as the cough's dry rhetoric.
...

I have reached a time when words no longer
help:
Instead of guiding me across the moors
Strong landmarks in the uncertain out-of-doors,
...

You go from me
In June for months on end
To study equanimity
Among high trees alone;
...

19.

Nightmare of beasthood, snorting, how to wake.
I woke. What beasthood skin she made me take?

Leathery toad that ruts for days on end,
...

I thought I was so tough,
But gentled at your hands,
Cannot be quick enough
To fly for you and show
...

Thom Gunn Biography

an Anglo-American poet who was praised both for his early verses in England, where he was associated with The Movement and his later poetry in America, even after moving toward a looser, free-verse style. After relocating from England to San Francisco, Gunn, who became openly gay, wrote about gay-related topics — particularly in his most famous work, The Man With Night Sweats in 1992 — as well as drug use, sex, and topics related to his bohemian lifestyle. He won numerous major literary awards.)

The Best Poem Of Thom Gunn

The Hug

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who'd showed us in the end
To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
Already I lay snug,
And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.

I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
Suddenly, from behind,
In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:
Your instep to my heel,
My shoulder-blades against your chest.
It was not sex, but I could feel
The whole strength of your body set,
Or braced, to mine,
And locking me to you
As if we were still twenty-two
When our grand passion had not yet
Become familial.
My quick sleep had deleted all
Of intervening time and place.
I only knew
The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.

Thom Gunn Comments

Liz Strutt 28 March 2020

I think I read this poem in 1964, it was titles something like ‘Doctor contemplating his body in the mirror’ I cannot find any trace of it anywhere, perhaps I read it in a newspaper or the New Statesman. Can someone trace it for me please

0 0 Reply
Kamiel Choi 20 May 2018

Wonderfully tender poem about a loving embrace, one of the finest gestures we can make to show each other our love. I discuss this poem on my site kamiel.creativechoice.org

1 1 Reply

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