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Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: Chesil (---.clvdoh.adelphia.)
Date: April 30, 2004 09:20AM

Thom Gunn, the British-born poet who made San Francisco his home for 40 years, and wrote poems that combined mastery of form with a contemporary frankness and subject matter, died Sunday night in San Francisco. He was 74.

The Man with Night Sweats

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

My flesh was its own shield:
Where it was gashed, it healed.

I grew as I explored
The body I could trust
Even while I adored
The risk that made robust,

A world of wonders in
Each challenge to the skin.

I cannot but be sorry
The given shield was cracked,
My mind reduced to hurry,
My flesh reduced and wrecked.

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.

From Collected Poems by Thom Gunn.

Re: Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: lg (
Date: April 30, 2004 11:33AM

The miracle of the human body. How we survive when just a slightly more potent dose of influenza, or fever would kill us? It makes one wonder.

Thanks for sharing this, Chesil.


Re: Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: May 03, 2004 01:47PM

I went to highschool in Palo Alto, where there's a school called Thomas Gunn. I knew it was named for a poet (a dead poet, I wrongly assumed), but this is the first time I've read his work.

Re: Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: StephenFryer (
Date: May 03, 2004 03:45PM

I think not. Thom was short for Thomson.


Re: Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: May 04, 2004 10:03AM

Middle name....submachine

Re: Farewell Thom Gunn
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: May 04, 2004 12:53PM

"Thom was short for Thomson."

My mistake, Stephen. I heard students say "I go to Gunn" or "I go to T(h)om Gunn" and I never checked the full name.

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