Thom Gunn and Misanthropos


"An imperfection endlessly refined": About "Misanthropos"

Notebook entry, March 8, 1963

"A poem of apparent formal virtuosity," Weiner argues, " 'Misanthropos' pushes form to yield an ethos about form that is more importantly one beyond form" (At the Barriers, p. 120, emphasis original). Weiner cites this notebook entry, Gunn's "Notes on the Last Man," in which Gunn overtly states what the "poem is about."

Notebook entries, February 1958

"The Book for the Survivor: Misanthropos, Last Notebook," January 1965

Along with a draft of a letter to Tanner, Gunn's "last" notebook contains a revised order for the poem sections, drafts and notes, and a summary and justification for the first two sections.

Notebook entries, February 1958

"Summary and justification for first section," January 1965


Notebook entries, May 2, 1963

"Summary and justification of second section," January 1965


Notebook entries, February 1958

"Misanthropos," circa 1965

Gunn wrote a detailed synopsis of the poem which he included with this copy of "Misanthropos." The draft, in the final order as published in Touch, has Gunn's notes and revisions.

Notebook entries, February 1958