Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Great Regulars: Ironically, we might be persuaded that

we had a better sense of the man [William Shakepeare] if less of his work had survived. If only The Phoenix and the Turtle had survived, we would think him cerebral and metaphysical. If only the non-dramatic poems had survived, we would posit an aristocratic and courtly temperament. If only A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing had survived, we would think him a blithe spirit. If only King Lear and Timon of Athens had survived, we might have thought him pessimistic to the point of neurosis.

from Powells: Review-A-Day: Bad Will Hunting


It was because [Thom] Gunn became such a poet of bodies--in motion, at rest, in bed, on the road, at the beach--that he could depict with such tact, in "The Man With Night Sweats," what happened to so many people when their bodies failed. In the dream-vision "A Sketch of the Great Dejection," "the body set out anew on its adventures," only to find "a place of poverty,/of inner and outer famine/where all movement had stopped/except for that of the wind."

Strict forms gave this poet frames for his laments, ways to reflect the strength that these dying men (and they were, for him, men) showed: One patient resembles a heraldic crest:

from Powells: Review-A-Day: Thom Gunn Selected Poems


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