07 April 2009

Thom Gunn

In honor of Iowa and Vermont, a poem from the great British/Californian poet Thom Gunn

The Hug

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who's 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.

From Thom Gunn: Selected Poems; Edited by August Kleinzahler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)


Eshuneutics said...

Hi, isn't that term "Selected Poems" terribly misleading? The UK edition has a much more modest: "Poems selected by" which is truer to the book.

ReggieH said...

Yes I saw your excellent post on Kleinzahler's selection of Gunn. After reading it I think the word 'filtering' or 'titration' might almost be better than 'selection.' A Palimpset of the poems of Thom Gunn. Sadly on this side of the Atlantic, the FSG uses the seemingly innocuous 'edited by'