A Man with Night Sweats

The Man with Night Sweats by Thom Gunn

The Man with Night Sweats was written in 1992. It was written during “The Movement”. The poem was written as a lyrical poem, which gives the reader an impression that the speaker is in emotional pain. This poem is connected to the unpleasant disease that he contracted called AIDS. The use of rhyme and meter also contribute to the intensity that provides the reader with images of the world of someone that suffers with a rather painful disease. Each line of the poem ends with an end rime. There are four quatrains and each one is followed by a couplet. The poem seems to be written in brocade pentameter.

The Man with Night Sweats, by Thom Gunn was a poem that used imagery to draw the reader into the mind and body of a man with AIDS. In stanza one there lays a sad but strong image of a man who sleeps in comfort through his dreams but wakes to find that reality is harsh and not a dream. “I wake up cold I who / Prospered through dreams of heat / Wake to their residue”. Gunn uses the repetition of I throughout the poem possibly implying that it is hard for him to believe that this disease is his reality. This is why the poem contains several fragmented thoughts which is again portrayed through the broken fragments of sentences. The poem doesn’t flow, Gunn has used several constants to show how shattered his thoughts were and how he feels. Or it could be that he is well aware of his condition and he seems to have a lot of self respect and pride in him. This could mean that he still has some sort of despairing hope.

“My flesh was its own shield” he says his body had once had the capability to heal by itself. When he says “the body I could trust” he trusted his own body. However this sentence that he used has been written in the past tense. The entire 2nd, 3rd and 4th stanzas are based upon his sensual pleasures. God had provided him with a “protective shield” and he misused it. “Even while I adored the risk that made robust”...