Selected Poems
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Selected Poems

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  61 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Thom Gunn was an Elizabethan poet in modern guise, though there’s nothing archaic, quaint, or sepia-toned about his poetry. His method was dispassionate and rigorous, uniquely well suited for making a poetic record of the tumultuous time in which he lived. Gunn’s dozens of brilliantly realized poems about nature, friendship, literature, sexual love, and death are set again...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1974)
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I'm itching to christen Thom Gunn the "Poet of the Hug." His poems, like hugs, are dependable and steady, marked by cool consistency and mellow humanistic sympathies. He has a few poems about hugs, too---most notably, the aptly titled "The Hug," which wistfully describes a platonic embrace shared by two ex-lovers who are now "just friends." There's also the stately lyric "Baucis and Philemon," which contains the lines "Two trunks like bodies, bodies like twined trunks,/Supported by their wooden...more
Like going to a new restaurant in a new city and ordering something extravagently new to you. Eating slowly, and then having coffee.

Thank you, Thom Gunn, for bringing that strange land of 1960s 70s San Francisco to me on my Ohio front porch. August Kleinzahler talks about Gunn coming to write more and more of the city, but I heard him caring about what lies around it: the grasses, small birds, dust, clouds, and the naked at the naked beaches.
This is one of my favourite books of poetry, ever. Touch, the Hug, and In Trust in particular bring tears to my eyes every time.
Jordaan Mason
really great introduction to this poet, spanning his entire career. i found the first few poetry volume excerpts to be my least favourite; he seemed to get better with age. stand-outs include "modes of pleasure (#2)," "the feel of hands," "touch," "rites of passage," "moly," "phaedra in the farm house," "the bed," "the hug," "the man with the night sweats," "lament," "shit (an essay on rimbaud)," and "the dump."
I find it difficult to compare Pilinszky to other poets I read - though several in this collection are reminiscent of Rilke.

A line, from "World Grown Cold," I found quite fascinating:

"And this is how the eternally unknowable
gets its homely look.
As with the leaves in their withering,
my decay embalms me."
Oct 25, 2012 Sarah added it
The formality of his verse is pretty stunning (extremely complex schemes of rhyming and meter), but aside from my admiration for his technical mastery, I'm not moved by Thom Gunn's poetry so far.
gosh, do you ever stop reading a poem? i will come back and review after i've read through these a few more dozen times.
I love Thom Gunn!
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