“I figured that, in thinking about my life, I was not going to be a poet who died young. People didn’t die young at that time, not until AIDS. I figured I had time to try anything, like syllabics and free verse, even though I think my strength really was in metrical verse, and I think still is. I felt I had the time to try all that, and, well, maybe try to solidify things in old age if I had enough talent. But I never expected to be writing past the age of 70. I never expected to livebeyond 70.”
“Would it bother you if this period of not writing continues?”
“It probably will. Nothing’s going to bother me now. Just getting ready to die — cheerfully.” Gunn chuckles slightly.
“Could it be that age is simply a subject that doesn’t interest you very much? Whereas Yeats, for instance, had a fiery late period which had a lot to do with the subject of aging in itself.”
“Yeah, well, he thought about age a lot, didn’t he? And he even had the monkey-gland operation. And though apparently completely unfeasible, it had great results for him because he thought it did. Fucking went out crazy!” Gunn laughs heartily. “But, no, I don’t think of it as that interesting in itself. Old age seems to me to be a time when people tend to lose their energy and lose their faculties more than they gain anything. Wiser? No, I don’t think so.”BOSS CUPID | By THOM GUNN | Farrar, Straus & Giroux | 111 pages | $22 hardcover
COLLECTED POEMS | By THOM GUNN | Noonday Press/FSG | 495 pages | $16 paperback