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The Man with Night Sweats

The Man with Night Sweats

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By Thom Gunn

The Man with Night Sweats is a haunting depiction of a world ravaged by illness that is part elegy for those who have been lost and part evocation of the changes that await those who survive.

It is also one of the few works of literature that have fully met both the aesthetic and the moral challenges that the AIDS epidemic poses. "The plague" Thom Gunn refers to has a specific contemporary connotation, but it inevitably takes on other, wider meanings as well: historical, cultural, existential. Gunn's quiet, restrained lines, which draw frankly from the great tradition of English lyric verse, respond to the harrowing realities of his—our—world with a stupefying simplicity and directness. The nobility and sobriety of his forms enhance and underscore the gravity and pathos of his subjects. The results have the cathartic and healing power of great art.

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