A Man with Night Sweats

December 21, 2016 General Studies

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.

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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??? shows us that he was the kind of man who enjoyed taking risks even if it meant harm to himself. He himself says that its only because of his doing that he is in such a condition. After messing up he says??? I cannot but be sorry the given shield was cracked???. It sounds like a very cold sentence. Till the fourth stanza the poem seems very lyrical this portrays that the lyrical self of the poet was the brave self. However after the fourth stanza a lot of half rhymes are involved this could be due to the utter hopelessness of the poet towards the end of the poem.

The reader may get a sad image of the man being lonely, hugging himself with no one else to hug him. It almost gives the reader the thought that the man allowed this to happen to himself, not knowing that the crack, something so small can turn into something so big. The Man with Night Sweats is a poem that every person who wants to know what having a disease is like; it might even change your mind. No one else to shield him from the pains that rush through his sweaty body. This almost gives the reader the impression that the mans mind is always racing, always full of thoughts. Gunn possibly uses this specific word order and broadness of the description of the man waking up cold yet sweaty to give the reader a broad view of what the mans ailment may be. The reader sees that through the words that Gunn uses. ???My flesh was its own shield where it was gashed, it healed???. Some of us tend to think that the small things in life mean nothing but in the life the man with night sweats it was possibly the small things that put him in his dire situation.

In conclusion, Gunn used many images to allow the reader to know how it feels to have any type of disease. ???I cannot but be sorry the given shield was cracked my mind reduced to hurry. Gunn uses the past tense to describe how the mans flesh was like a shield and where it was gashed it healed. The different thoughts of the disease, his future, and the simple question of why me Lord Continue to race through this mans mind. The man is weakened because he knows that he has to live with the disease for the rest of his life; a scar that will never heal.


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