Thom Gunn: The Hug

I may occasionally seem like a brash, cynical, loveless swine. Actually I am a softy, a cuddle-hoarder and a lovington. This poem has always made me feel safe and warm and loved, and it has in both form and feel thoroughly informed my love poetry. Sex has really nothing to do with it, for once: only friendship and love. Nawww. 

 

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.

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