The Sense of Movement by Thom Gunn

the sense of movement

Thom Gunn’s The Sense of Movement was his second collection, and still when he was in his twenties (!). Gunn is famous for beautiful, effortless formalist poetry from a gay perspective, and this book, for me, far outshines his first, Fighting Terms. It just feels more expansive, and – (and this is a complement for a poetry book) – it took me so long to read because I kept stopping and re-reading and re-reading poems over and over, wowed by their musicality and their craft.

An example:

“What could I do but seek the synthesis
As each man does, of what his nature is?”

Another, and particularly of Gunn’s musicality. The first stanza from “The Allegory of the Wolf Boy”:

“The causes are in Time; only their issue
Is bodied in the flesh, the finite powers.
And how to guess he hides in that firm tissue
Seeds of division? At tennis and at tea
Upon the gentle law, he is not ours,
But plays us in a sad duplicity.”

I think from reading those it should be clear to you if Gunn is for you or not, but he’s definitely for me, and I’m tearing through his collections! Recommended!


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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