Poetry Friday: The Hug

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Next week is National Poetry Day. I’ve been gathering some poems from colleagues, partly for display and partly for a quiz for students – am thinking kind of a treasure hunt, though not sure about encouraging them to maraud around the school 😉

I probably won’t put this one in (I’m not sure which I’ll choose yet!) but I love reading it with sixth form as part of the Love through the Ages unit. This, to me, is love. It’s creeping into bed with a lover with whom you’re so familiar that you just fit, every inch.  It’s pressing together because you just need that close contact and can’t get enough of one another – as he says, not sex, but togetherness. It’s quiet, and peaceful, secure and long-lasting, not with the fleeting passion of lust but an altogether more fulfilling passion. Some students argue that it lacks passion – I think, as a teenager, I probably would have felt the same and I know my impression of what is important in a relationship has changed dramatically since then – since even five years ago. Yet I don’t think that this poem lacks passion. The “full length”, “strength…braced…locking me to you” speaks to me of a deep need for one another that is fulfilled in their embrace.

What would your favourite poem be for National Poetry Day?

The Hug

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

– Thomas Gunn

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