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This report is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

Two Poems for Thom Gunn Harry Guest and John Peck

Centuries

in memory, Thom Gunn

Keats stared at coiled hair - John
Milton's - and felt blood
drenching his face, as later
he felt the same hot
acknowledgement before a
Greek cup, all life flocking there
at full-bodied ease.

And yes, there is that great one's
unsurpassable
doing, then the javelin
thrown anyway, the
uncoiling lunge off the block
before that whisper over
the shoulder, before

they toss up the white flag at
the finish. And yet
beyond sparking hair, just past
all those burstings in
the young man, an opening
onto fields, blown curtains onto
standing bending weeds

and the wind out of blending
spaces, of what we
call the centuries and then
fall still before - that:
it coming from where, and we
weaponless, the forehead cool,
unthought of. The whole

of that already there yet still coming.


                                                             JOHN PECK


Thom Gunn 1929-2004

We last met outside Charing Cross by chance,
your cowboy boots contrasting with my own
scuffed suèdes. Cambridge post-war seemed far away
(Dadie v. Leavis, Chequer, tea with Karl)
though oddly less so later when the oracles
deigned to reveal their flip-side.
                                                              With dismay
I came to learn how, on that boring Coast, ...


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