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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Thom Gunn - Tamer and Hawk

I thought I was so tough,
But gentled at your hands,
Cannot be quick enough
To fly for you and show
That when I go I go
At your commands.

Even in flight above
I am no longer free:
You seeled me with your love,
I am blind to other birds—
The habit of your words
Has hooded me.

As formerly, I wheel
I hover and I twist,
But only want the feel,
In my possessive thought,
Of catcher and of caught
Upon your wrist.

You but half civilize,
Taming me in this way.
Through having only eyes
For you I fear to lose,
I lose to keep, and choose
Tamer as prey.

Thom Gunn - In Trust

            You go from me

        In June for months on end

    To study equanimity

         Among high trees alone;

     I go out with a new boyfriend

And stay all summer in the city where

         Home mostly on my own

         I watch the sunflowers flare.


             You travel East

        To help your relatives.

   The rainy season's start, at least,

        Brings you from banishment:

    And from the hall a doorway gives

A glimpse of you, writing I don't know what,

         Through winter, with head bent

         In the lamp's yellow spot.


              To some fresh task

         Some improvising skill

     Your face is turned, of which I ask

         Nothing except the presence:

    Beneath white hair your clear eyes still

Are candid as the cat's fixed narrowing gaze

        —Its pale-blue incandescence

        In your room nowadays.


             Sociable cat:

         Without much noise or fuss

    We left the kitchen where he sat,

          And suddenly we find

     He happens still to be with us,

In this room now, though firmly faced away,

          Not to be left behind,

          Though all the night he'll stray.


              As you began

        You'll end the year with me.

   We'll hug each other while we can,

        Work or stray while we must.

    Nothing is, or will ever be,

Mine, I suppose. No one can hold a heart,

          But what we hold in trust

          We do hold, even apart.

Thom Gunn - Considering the Snail

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,


pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later


I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.

Thom Gunn - On The Move

The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows

Some hidden purpose, and the gust of birds

That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,

Has nested in the trees and undergrowth.

Seeking their instinct, or their poise, or both,

One moves with an uncertain violence

Under the dust thrown by a baffled sense

Or the dull thunder of approximate words.


On motorcycles, up the road, they come:

Small, black, as flies hanging in heat, the Boys,

Until the distance throws them forth, their hum

Bulges to thunder held by calf and thigh.

In goggles, donned impersonality,

In gleaming jackets trophied with the dust,

They strap in doubt – by hiding it, robust –

And almost hear a meaning in their noise.


Exact conclusion of their hardiness

Has no shape yet, but from known whereabouts

They ride, direction where the tyres press.

They scare a flight of birds across the field:

Much that is natural, to the will must yield.

Men manufacture both machine and soul,

And use what they imperfectly control

To dare a future from the taken routes.


It is a part solution, after all.

One is not necessarily discord

On earth; or damned because, half animal,

One lacks direct instinct, because one wakes

Afloat on movement that divides and breaks.

One joins the movement in a valueless world,

Choosing it, till, both hurler and the hurled,

One moves as well, always toward, toward.


A minute holds them, who have come to go:

The self-defined, astride the created will

They burst away; the towns they travel through

Are home for neither bird nor holiness,

For birds and saints complete their purposes.

At worst, one is in motion; and at best,

Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,

One is always nearer by not keeping still.

Thom Gunn - The Hug

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined

    Half of the night with our old friend

        Who'd showed us in the end

    To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.

        Already I lay snug,

And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.


I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,

        Suddenly, from behind,

In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:

         Your instep to my heel,

     My shoulder-blades against your chest.

     It was not sex, but I could feel

     The whole strength of your body set,

             Or braced, to mine,

         And locking me to you

     As if we were still twenty-two

     When our grand passion had not yet

         Become familial.

     My quick sleep had deleted all

     Of intervening time and place.

         I only knew

The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.

Thom Gunn - My Sad Captains

One by one they appear in

the darkness: a few friends, and   

a few with historical

names. How late they start to shine!   

but before they fade they stand   

perfectly embodied, all


the past lapping them like a   

cloak of chaos. They were men   

who, I thought, lived only to   

renew the wasteful force they   

spent with each hot convulsion.   

They remind me, distant now.


True, they are not at rest yet,   

but now that they are indeed   

apart, winnowed from failures,   

they withdraw to an orbit

and turn with disinterested   

hard energy, like the stars.

Thom Gunn - Lament

Your dying was a difficult enterprise.

First, petty things took up your energies,

The small but clustering duties of the sick,   

Irritant as the cough’s dry rhetoric.

Those hours of waiting for pills, shot, X-ray   

Or test (while you read novels two a day)   

Already with a kind of clumsy stealth

Distanced you from the habits of your health.

    In hope still, courteous still, but tired and thin,   

You tried to stay the man that you had been,   

Treating each symptom as a mere mishap   

Without import. But then the spinal tap.

It brought a hard headache, and when night came   

I heard you wake up from the same bad dream   

Every half-hour with the same short cry

Of mild outrage, before immediately

Slipping into the nightmare once again

Empty of content but the drip of pain.

No respite followed: though the nightmare ceased,   

Your cough grew thick and rich, its strength increased.   

Four nights, and on the fifth we drove you down   

To the Emergency Room. That frown, that frown:   

I’d never seen such rage in you before

As when they wheeled you through the swinging door.   

For you knew, rightly, they conveyed you from   

Those normal pleasures of the sun’s kingdom   

The hedonistic body basks within

And takes for granted—summer on the skin,   

Sleep without break, the moderate taste of tea   

In a dry mouth. You had gone on from me

As if your body sought out martyrdom   

In the far Canada of a hospital room.   

Once there, you entered fully the distress   

And long pale rigours of the wilderness.   

A gust of morphine hid you. Back in sight

You breathed through a segmented tube, fat, white,   

Jammed down your throat so that you could not speak.

    How thin the distance made you. In your cheek   

One day, appeared the true shape of your bone   

No longer padded. Still your mind, alone,   

Explored this emptying intermediate   

State for what holds and rests were hidden in it.

    You wrote us messages on a pad, amused   

At one time that you had your nurse confused   

Who, seeing you reconciled after four years   

With your grey father, both of you in tears,   

Asked if this was at last your ‘special friend’

(The one you waited for until the end).   

‘She sings,’ you wrote, ‘a Philippine folk song   

To wake me in the morning ... It is long   

And very pretty.’ Grabbing at detail   

To furnish this bare ledge toured by the gale,   

On which you lay, bed restful as a knife,   

You tried, tried hard, to make of it a life   

Thick with the complicating circumstance

Your thoughts might fasten on. It had been chance   

Always till now that had filled up the moment   

With live specifics your hilarious comment   

Discovered as it went along; and fed,   

Laconic, quick, wherever it was led.   

You improvised upon your own delight.   

I think back to the scented summer night   

We talked between our sleeping bags, below

A molten field of stars five years ago:

I was so tickled by your mind’s light touch

I couldn’t sleep, you made me laugh too much,   

Though I was tired and begged you to leave off.


Now you were tired, and yet not tired enough

—Still hungry for the great world you were losing   

Steadily in no season of your choosing—

And when at last the whole death was assured,   

Drugs having failed, and when you had endured   

Two weeks of an abominable constraint,   

You faced it equably, without complaint,   

Unwhimpering, but not at peace with it.   

You’d lived as if your time was infinite:   

You were not ready and not reconciled,   

Feeling as uncompleted as a child

Till you had shown the world what you could do   

In some ambitious role to be worked through,   

A role your need for it had half-defined,   

But never wholly, even in your mind.   

You lacked the necessary ruthlessness,   

The soaring meanness that pinpoints success.   

We loved that lack of self-love, and your smile,   

Rueful, at your own silliness.


Your lungs collapsed, and the machine, unstrained,   

Did all your breathing now. Nothing remained   

But death by drowning on an inland sea   

Of your own fluids, which it seemed could be   

Kindly forestalled by drugs. Both could and would:   

Nothing was said, everything understood,   

At least by us. Your own concerns were not   

Long-term, precisely, when they gave the shot

—You made local arrangements to the bed   

And pulled a pillow round beside your head.

    And so you slept, and died, your skin gone grey,   

Achieving your completeness, in a way.


Outdoors next day, I was dizzy from a sense   

Of being ejected with some violence

From vigil in a white and distant spot   

Where I was numb, into this garden plot

Too warm, too close, and not enough like pain.   

I was delivered into time again

—The variations that I live among

Where your long body too used to belong   

And where the still bush is minutely active.   

You never thought your body was attractive,   

Though others did, and yet you trusted it   

And must have loved its fickleness a bit

Since it was yours and gave you what it could,   

Till near the end it let you down for good,   

Its blood hospitable to those guests who   

Took over by betraying it into

The greatest of its inconsistencies

This difficult, tedious, painful enterprise.

Thom Gunn - Touch

You are already
asleep. I lower
myself in next to
you, my skin slightly
numb with the restraint
of habits, the patina of
self, the black frost
of outsideness, so that even
unclothed, it is
a resilient chilly
hardness, a superficially
malleable, dead
rubbery texture.


You are a mound
of bedclothes, where the cat
in sleep braces
its paws against your
calf through the blankets,
and kneads each paw in turn.


Meanwhile and slowly
I feel a is it
my own warmth surfacing or
the ferment of your whole
body that in darkness beneath
the cover is stealing
bit by bit to break
down that chill.


You turn and
hold me tightly, do
you know who
I am or am I
your mother or
the nearest human being to
hold on to in a
dreamed pogrom.


What I, now loosened,
sink into is an old
big place, it is
there already, for
you are already
there, and the cat
got there before you,
it is hard to locate.
What is more, the place is
not found but seeps
from our touch in
continuous creation, dark
enclosing cocoon round
ourselves alone, dark
wide realm where we
walk with everyone.