Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Man With Night Sweats” as Want to Read:
The Man With Night Sweats
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Man With Night Sweats

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  381 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Thom Gunn's The Man With Night Sweats shows him writing at the height of his powers, equally in command of classical forms and of looser, more colloquial measures, and ready to address a wide range of themes, both intimate and social. The book ends with a set of poems about the deaths of friends from AIDS. With their unflinching directness, compassion and grace, they are a ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 4th 2002 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Man With Night Sweats, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Man With Night Sweats

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x01-january-2017
There are things about his style I didn't love, but the way the poems all come together to paint a picture of what life was like for Thom Gunn is the mid to late 80s is powerful. Not gonna lie, several of these poems made me teary.
Thom Gunn's excellent verses in The Man with Night Sweats qualify him as the Poet Laureate for the AIDS crisis. This would be an unwanted honor for the poet, but the need for these brilliant poems is great, as they ensure that the events of that sorrowful era will remain accessible to students of history and literature into the future. There are other themes and subjects in these multi-layered poems; some of my favorites are, 'The Hug,' 'To Isherwood Dying,' 'The Stealer,' and 'All Do Not All Th ...more
You know, I know I liked this book (though I found it uneven), but I'm always at a loss as to how to review poetry. Even if I'm supposedly working towards becoming a literary scholar, and one who frequently teaches poetry, I suppose I tend to have a sort of visceral reaction to something or I react not at all. Either way, these are affective and not necessarily intellectual responses. I'll say one critique though: Gunn's rigid formalism seems to be a real double-edged sword for this collection: ...more
Roy Kesey
A little looser than I'd guessed, more air in the joints, but there are some amazing knots of meaning. At times I felt left out of its intimacies, and much of the language was not particularly interesting. But the death poems – section 4 – are for the most part amazingly strong.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-poetics
Read "Death's Door," the second-to-last poem. Holy shit, what an awesome poem. Funny and weird and heartbreaking. Five stars just for that. The rest of the book is great, too.
Helisa Taban
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thom Gunn's poetry is genius! I feel like grabbing someone by the shoulders and asking, "have you read Thom Gunn yet? Because you really should!"
What sets this book apart from most works of poetry in the twentieth century is the detached and impersonal tone. The "I" has no personality which makes this work very similar to the Elizabethan poets like Donne and Shakespeare. The other important feature is the reluctance to romanticize things. Thom Gunn does not sugar coat, or try to paint a pretty
"I have to change the bed, / But catch myself instead / Stopped upright where I am / Hugging my body to me / As if to shield it from / The pains that will go through me, / As if hands were enough / To hold an avalanche off. "
Khashayar Mohammadi
While there were a lot of redeeming poems in this collection, I just can't stand perfect rhymes and strictly metered poetry.
Jessie Johnson
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Snow blows out toward them, till their seat
Filling with flakes becomes instead
Snow-bank, snow-landscape, and in that
They find themselves with all the dead
A strong collection, though uneven - some moments were incredibly affective, though others which had the promise of being were smothered by adherence to a (more or less) rigid rhyme structure, which did sometimes make the poetry sound if not juvenile then amateur. I particularly enjoyed (and would give closer to five starts to!) the poems: 'The Hug' (As if we were still twenty-two/When our grand passion had not yet/Become familial), 'The Differences' (I turned into the boy with iron teeth/Who pl ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considering that I don't really like reading poetry, this was an unexpectedly sparkling read. A simple, clear, sensitive, funny, direct, honest, camp and joyous approach to AIDS and illness in general. (he also writes about other things). Here's a very Nietzschean one:


'Born in a sour waste lot
You laboured up to light,
Bunching what strength you'd got
And running out of sight
Through a knot-hole at last,
To come forth into sun
As is without a past,
Done with it, re-begun.

Now street-side of th
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thom Gunn’s The Man with Night Sweats (1992) memorializes a San Francisco poet’s tragic losses due to AIDS. An “Anglo-American poet” known for his brainy yet visceral formal verse, the late British expatriate often wrote in meter and rhyme about his countercultural daily life in California, filling his poems with surfers, motorcyclists, LSD, popular icons, literature, and gay men. So when AIDS emerged and he lost an overwhelming number of his friends, Gunn had crafted a language for the body and ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection is pretty uneven. There are some really good poems, mostly the ones towards the end dealing with HIV/AIDS. But there are a lot if poems that seem half finished, and many of the attempts to write rhyming lines are pretty painful and overworked. For example, 'All Do Not All Things Well' contains the lines:

Raised a huge beard above
A huge Hell's Angel belly.

They seemed to live on beer
And corn chips from the deli.

That just sound sophomoric, like it was written for a high school creat
Kane S.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hm. Okay.

The first three sections are good-ish, neither good nor bad, really, just perfectly adequate poetry. But the last section, which deals almost exclusively with the death and decay of the people around him, is beautiful.

The Man with Night Sweats, a collection of poems by Thom Gunn, is not flashy or overly complex. The individual poems operate — in a way that might strike people as hokey, replete with "beat"/"heat" rhyme schemes — as explorations of loss and death and change and moving on.
David Nouvel
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction
Your pain still hangs in air, / Sharp motes of it suspended; / The voice of your despair - / That also is not ended: / When near your death a friend / Askes you what he could do, / 'Remember me', you said / We will remember you / (...) / You climbed in there beside him / And hugged him plain in view, / Though you were sick enough, / And had your own fears too. ('Memory Unsettled')
Most moving to me, here, are Gunn's poems about AIDS. About his loved friends in hospitals, their bodies and illness and spirit rendered in formal verse. Utterly compelling to see the restraint of form around a contemporary and devastating subject.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book of poetry. Gunn is my favorite poet, hands down, and this is the collection that won me over.
Mar 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very readable poet who tackles big subjects: in this case AIDS.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Luis Correa
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Joining the ranks as one of my favorites. Someday, I plan on committing some of these poems to memory.
This would be a 3 1/2-star book if I could do that. It was pretty consistenly good. Its main theme is death (from AIDS, in particular), but my south node is in the 8th house, so I'm all about that!
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, I read it awhile ago, it is gritty and full of moving, male- centered poems some stronger for me than others.
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, emotional, heart-felt collection of poetry, truly poignant.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superbly crafted poems exploring the HIV/AIDS crisis in its early years and other topics by one of the best poets writing in English in the last century.
Leigh Koonce
I believe this collection is the last Gunn wrote. It focuses mainly upon the AIDS crisis. Quite depressing, though well written. I think perhaps I am best suited to his earlier work.
César L.
rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2015
rated it really liked it
May 22, 2011
rated it it was ok
Jun 21, 2014
Destiny Guerrero
rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2014
Meg Day
rated it really liked it
Feb 09, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cocktails
  • Sweet Machine
  • Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog
  • In a Time of Violence: Poems
  • Middle Earth: Poems
  • 77 Dream Songs
  • Burnings
  • Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability
  • The Master Letters: Poems
  • The Amputee's Guide to Sex
  • Geography III
  • Speak Low
  • Is the Rectum a Grave?: and Other Essays
  • Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems
  • Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
  • Blind Huber
  • Life Studies and For the Union Dead
  • Beginning with O
Thom Gunn (29 August 1929 – 25 April 2004), born Thomson William Gunn, was an Anglo-American poet who was praised 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 wrote about gay-related topics—particularly in his most famous work, Th ...more
More about Thom Gunn
“As if hands were enough
To hold an avalanche off.”
More quotes…