The Man With Night Sweats

ISBN: 0374523819
ISBN 13: 9780374523817
By: Thom Gunn

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About this book

This volume—a contemporary classic by "one of the most singular and compelling poets in English [of] the past half-century" (Times Literary Supplement)—contains poems written in response to the AIDS crisis. Originally published in 1992, it was Thom Gunn's first book of verse in ten years.

Reader's Thoughts


Most moving to me, here, are Gunn's poems about AIDS. About his loved friends in hospitals, their bodies and illness and spirit rendered in formal verse. Utterly compelling to see the restraint of form around a contemporary and devastating subject.


A very readable poet who tackles big subjects: in this case AIDS.


An excellent, emotional, heart-felt collection of poetry, truly poignant.

Leigh Koonce

I believe this collection is the last Gunn wrote. It focuses mainly upon the AIDS crisis. Quite depressing, though well written. I think perhaps I am best suited to his earlier work.


Thom Gunn’s The Man with Night Sweats (1992) memorializes a San Francisco poet’s tragic losses due to AIDS. An “Anglo-American poet” known for his brainy yet visceral formal verse, the late British expatriate often wrote in meter and rhyme about his countercultural daily life in California, filling his poems with surfers, motorcyclists, LSD, popular icons, literature, and gay men. So when AIDS emerged and he lost an overwhelming number of his friends, Gunn had crafted a language for the body and a tough, stoic voice. These defining aspects of his style were perfectly wrought for the task at hand—to preserve the stories of how his loved ones left this world.[Continued]Full SevenPonds review:


I loved this book, I read it awhile ago, it is gritty and full of moving, male- centered poems some stronger for me than others.


Read "Death's Door," the second-to-last poem. Holy shit, what an awesome poem. Funny and weird and heartbreaking. Five stars just for that. The rest of the book is great, too.

PEN Center USA

1993 PEN Center USA Award Winner for Poetry




This collection is pretty uneven. There are some really good poems, mostly the ones towards the end dealing with HIV/AIDS. But there are a lot if poems that seem half finished, and many of the attempts to write rhyming lines are pretty painful and overworked. For example, 'All Do Not All Things Well' contains the lines:Raised a huge beard aboveA huge Hell's Angel belly.They seemed to live on beerAnd corn chips from the deli. That just sound sophomoric, like it was written for a high school creative writing class. But the 4th section, which contains the title poem, those are well thought out, beautifully done.


Considering that I don't really like reading poetry, this was an unexpectedly sparkling read. A simple, clear, sensitive, funny, direct, honest, camp and joyous approach to AIDS and illness in general. (he also writes about other things). Here's a very Nietzschean one:Nasturtium'Born in a sour waste lotYou laboured up to light,Bunching what strength you'd gotAnd running out of sightThrough a knot-hole at last,To come forth into sunAs is without a past,Done with it, re-begun.Now street-side of the fenceYou take a few green turns,Nimble in nonchalanceBefore your first flower burns.From poverty and prisonAnd undernourishmentA prodigal has risen,Self-spending, never spent.Irregular yellow shellAnd drooping spur behind . . .Not rare but beautiful- Street-handsome - as you windAnd leap, hold after hold,A golden runawayStill running, strewing goldFrom side to side all day.'


An amazing book of poetry. Gunn is my favorite poet, hands down, and this is the collection that won me over.


You know, I know I liked this book (though I found it uneven), but I'm always at a loss as to how to review poetry. Even if I'm supposedly working towards becoming a literary scholar, and one who frequently teaches poetry, I suppose I tend to have a sort of visceral reaction to something or I react not at all. Either way, these are affective and not necessarily intellectual responses. I'll say one critique though: Gunn's rigid formalism seems to be a real double-edged sword for this collection: at times, it manages to retrieve his more emotional portraits of the HIV/AIDS epidemic from maudlin-"Philadelphia" style tearjerkers; at others, his insistence on clear rhyme schemes or metered lines leads the poetry into a kind of facile tone, or one that feels more weightless than it should, if that makes any sense. Not that it's being silly, but that it begins to be a bit like cotton candy; it's there for a moment of pleasure and then dissolves into nothingness, leaving no memory behind it. The first and fourth parts were my personal favorites, though I need to go back and close read some of the specific pieces for my field exam soon. Perhaps an update to this review then.


This would be a 3 1/2-star book if I could do that. It was pretty consistenly good. Its main theme is death (from AIDS, in particular), but my south node is in the 8th house, so I'm all about that!

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