Tamer and Hawk

By Thom Gunn 1929–2004 Thom Gunn
I thought I was so tough,
But gentled at your hands,
Cannot be quick enough
To fly for you and show
That when I go I go
At your commands.

Even in flight above
I am no longer free:
You seeled me with your love,
I am blind to other birds—
The habit of your words
Has hooded me.

As formerly, I wheel
I hover and I twist,
But only want the feel,
In my possessive thought,
Of catcher and of caught
Upon your wrist.

You but half civilize,
Taming me in this way.
Through having only eyes
For you I fear to lose,
I lose to keep, and choose
Tamer as prey.

Thom Gunn, "Tamer and Hawk" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Thom Gunn.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Source: Selected Poems 1950-1975 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Thom Gunn 1929–2004

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Love, Classic Love, Desire, Romantic Love, Nature, Animals

Occasions Anniversary, Engagement

Holidays Valentine's Day

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Assonance, Imagery, Metaphor

 Thom  Gunn

Biography

An English poet who has been a long-time resident of California, Thom Gunn combines a respect for traditional poetic forms with an interest in popular topics, such as the Hell's Angels, LSD, and homosexuality. While Gunn wrote most of his early verses in iambic pentameter—a phase when his ambition was "to be the John Donne of the twentieth century"—his more recent works assume a variety of forms, including syllabic stanzas and . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Love, Classic Love, Desire, Romantic Love, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Assonance, Imagery, Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.