Thom Gunn

(29 August 1929 – 25 April 2004 / England)

The Man with Night Sweats


I wake up cold, I who
Prospered through dreams of heat
Wake to their residue,
Sweat, and a clinging sheet.

My flesh was its own shield:
Where it was gashed, it healed.

I grew as I explored
The body I could trust
Even while I adored
The risk that made robust,

A world of wonders in
Each challenge to the skin.

I cannot but be sorry
The given shield was cracked,
My mind reduced to hurry,
My flesh reduced and wrecked.

I have to change the bed,
But catch myself instead

Stopped upright where I am
Hugging my body to me
As if to shield it from
The pains that will go through me,

As if hands were enough
To hold an avalanche off.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Nick Capozzoli (4/18/2009 10:15:00 PM)

    This poem is very fine, but remains somewhat oblique and mysterious. It helps to know that the man with the night sweats is suffering from AIDS, and not TB or cancer. (Report) Reply

  • Nenita24 Mbaye (5/11/2007 5:06:00 PM)

    Compliments of the day to you.
    I am Miss nenita fred I am single,23yrs.However How are you? hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health.I went through your profile and i read it and took intersest in it, if you don't mind i will like to know you much better, although i came online to look for a true and loving man that is ready for a true, honest and loving relationship and will be able to take good care of me if you are the kind of man am talking about then send me a mail now on my private email (nenita_4life77@yahoo.co.uk) included, so that i will tell you all about myself and a picture of myself.looking forward to hear from you, thanks and God bless
    miss nenita (Report) Reply

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