The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Still Life
By Thom Gunn

I shall not soon forget
The greyish-yellow skin
To which the face had set:
Lids tight: nothing of his,
No tremor from within,
Played on the surfaces.

He still found breath, and yet
It was an obscure knack.
I shall not soon forget
The angle of his head,
Arrested and reared back
On the crisp field of bed,

Back from what he could neither
Accept, as one opposed,
Nor, as a life-long breather,
Consentingly let go,
The tube his mouth enclosed
In an astonished O.


From this morning's Poet's Choice column by By Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post Book World: "Thom Gunn, who died in April at the age of 74, was a lively Anglo-American poet with a warm heart and a cool head, a rare combination. His rigorous intelligence and sympathetic imagination are everywhere in evidence in his 12 books of poems...this excellent verse technician was, in the end, a provocative gay love poet. Gunn insisted on the continuity between England and America, between meter and free verse, between epiphanic vision and everyday consciousness."

communicator posted a Thom Gunn poem around the time he died that I copied out of her journal and saved. I shall repost that here, too:

Confessions of the Life Artist
(An extract)
By Thom Gunn

I elevate not what I have, but what I wish to have,
and see myself in others.

There is a girl in the train
who emulates the beehive
of the magazine stars of
four years ago.
I blush at
The jibes that grow inside me,
lest someone should utter them.

Why was something evolved so
tender, so open to pain?

Here is a famous picture.

It is of a little Jew
in Warsaw, some years ago,
being hustled somewhere. His
mother dressed him that morning
warmly in cap and cloth coat.
he stares at the camera
as he passes. Whatever
those big shining dark eyes have
just looked at, they can see now
no appeal in the wide world.

People will forget Shakespeare
He will lie with George Formby
and me, here where the swine root.
later, the solar system
will flare up and fall into space, irretrievably lost.

For the loss, as for the life,
there will be no excuse, there
is no justification.


ashinae just linked me to the upsetting news that Richard Biggs of Babylon 5 has died. I had interviewed him, back in the day, and he had kept in touch on and off with news of new projects; lovely man, hardworking, funny. He was only 43.

I have decided that I am not going to fill this journal with US political memes. Everyone here probably knows my politics -- if not, and you have questions, just ask, I'm not shy. I have links on my web page to many government places you might want to write and many organizations you might want to join. But if I did a meme every time someone in the Bush administration pissed me off, there would be little else in this journal. I highly recommend getting on the ACLU mailing list, the PFAW mailing list, Common Cause, The Daily Mislead and various other lists that can help you keep up with the daily goings-on of the US government and make it easy for you to contact your representatives and the White House.

Have posted Russell in Parade today at russell_daily for anyone who is here for the Russell, which I suspect to be more people than are here for the politics. Not that that will stop me from ranting on a regular basis anyway. Plus, sweet, Maurice screen caps in boy_touching. And juleskicks linked me via the BBC to The Diary of Samuel Pepys, a blog. OMG does this rock.

Am off to see my 17-year-old cousin in Fiddler on the Roof. Why do high schools believe that they can convincingly cast Tevye and Golde from among adolescents? My cousin at least is playing Motel the Tailor, who is probably not much older than 17. And wow, the cicadas are loud. I love it.

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