The Man With Night Sweats
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 among the most moving statements yet to have been provoked by the disease.
"The tension of Gunn's famous earlier poems, which adventurously drew on classical themes (Achilles and Patroclus), pop icons (Presley and Brando), and existential extremes, has, in his first new collection in ten years, become muted and commemorative . . . Gunn moves with a colloquial ease and a kind of epigrammatic grace through a variety of quatrains, coupleted monologues, Skeltonic variations, and occasional free verse."--John Updike," The New Yorker "The great and undeniable potency of The Man with Night Sweats comes from the poet's huge restraint, as much as from his tragic subject matter . . . The Man with Night Sweats shows a poet at the top of his form, gathering his world into art without ever choking off passion. The formidable craft behind these poems--the metrical, syllabic, and rhyming intricacy--is translucent, but there to buoy the emotion like an invisible net."--Matthew Gilbert, "The Boston Globe "Perhaps his most wary, moving, personal book to date. It is a forceful reminder that Gunn . . . is one of the most singular and compelling poets in English during the past half-century . . . He writes of and from the modern climate, as if wholly at home here; these new poems have a claim to be some of the most authentic occasional poems of our time."--Hugh Haughton, "The Times Literary Supplement "What Gunn is continually attempting to grasp or understand in this book is the condition of those around him, strangers and lovers alike, and we treasure his tone of brotherly forbearance as he makes his way . . . Gunn is a definatly unsuitable poet--a formalist who often writes in free verse, an Englishman living in America, an autobiographical poet whose subjectselude the self . . . The book, divided into four sections, begins with poems boldly erotic and ends at 'death's door' . . . Yet amid all this astringent life experience, astonishingly, a profound hope emerges."--Henri Cole, The Nation
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