Thom Gunn died this past Sunday and I'm sure if I had been paying attention to the local newspaper, I would have known and mentioned it earlier.
I met Thom Gunn last year, during my first quarter at Stanford as a Stegner fellow. He was the Lane Visiting Lecturer last fall, and after a colloqium/q & a session much like the one I described Merwin conducting below, Gunn and the other poetry Stegner fellows in attendance (and I snuck my girlfriend in as well) went to a private lunch at the Faculty Club. Very posh, very private, and Thom Gunn was as down to earth as any person walking along the street. He was cordial and generous and honest and patient and generally wonderful to be around. I'll miss him.
And on that note, I'll post one of Gunn's poems, a memoriam of sorts for the man I met once and wish I had gotten to know better.
In sunlight now, after the weeks it rained,
Water has mapped irregular shapes that follow
Between no banks, impassive where it drained
Then stayed to rise and brim from every hollow.
Hillocks are firm, though soft, and not yet mud.
Tangles of long bright grass, like waterweed,
Surface upon the patches of the flood,
Distinct as islands from their valleys freed
And sharp as reefs dividing inland seas.
Yet definition is suspended, for,
In pools across the level listlessness,
Light answers only light before the breeze,
Cancelling the rutted, weedy, slow brown floor
For the unity of unabsorbed excess.