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Two Versions of “Meat”

Two Versions of “Meat”

Chapter:
(p.127) Two Versions of “Meat”
Source:
At the Barriers
Author(s):
Thom Gunn
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226890371.003.0009

“Two Versions of ‘Meat’” was reprinted for two reasons. The first is substantial: because of where we sit historically, some presume that progress in the art of poetry involves a re-visioning from the more formal to the less formal, along the line of a literary historical cliché. But Gunn's poem “Meat” moved from the less to the more formal (his sense of continuity was always a two-way conduit); and the two versions of it exist now side by side as an exemplary case of how form and rhetoric convey different qualities of experience, instinct, and intellect. The second reason is sentimental: when the author asked Thom, in 1992, for permission to reprint the free verse “Meat” to accompany a short chapter on the two versions for AGNI, he responded that he was “thrilled to my tits” that someone had taken up the subject. The reappearance of the two versions suggest so much of Gunn's experiential range and technical flexibility; and he would take some private pleasure, too, in the cross-circuited complementary attentions gathered here in an admittedly weird wide net of a book.

Keywords:   Meat, continuity, Thom Gunn, poetry, rhetoric

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