Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Literature. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 June 2024

Gunn, Thomlocked

Gunn, Thomlocked

  • Theresa M. Welford


Although Thom Gunn grew upin England, he prefers the United States, where he has lived for nearly five decades. In the 1950s his poetry celebrated “toughs” who were antisocial, self-destructive, even criminal, but before long he celebrated the opposite: friendship, tenderness, community. He unapologetically describes himself as a “rather derivative poet,” although most writers would repudiate such a label. In Gunn's poetry one detects traces of surprisingly disparate writers: Shakespeare and Baudelaire, Donne and Whitman, Yeats and Ginsberg. And although his poems can be complex, they tend to be more accessible than intimidating. Dana Gioia's description (1999) is apt: “Gunn is the prince of paradox, the quintessential San Franciscan who still holds a British passport, a romantic entranced by classical control, an experimentalist who never renounced rhyme and meter, and [an] anti-authoritarian populist with mandarin standards.”


  • North American Literatures

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription