Poems of Love And Death

Thom Gunn's Boss Cupid portrays no winged angel

Imagine an Auden less reticent about the (male) objects of his affection, or a Philip Larkin shedding his librarian's tweeds for a leather jacket and motorcycle boots. Such imagined metamorphoses might give new readers some sense of the lively pleasures awaiting them in the poetry of Thom Gunn, 70. Those who have watched his distinguished career evolve over nearly half a century need, of course, no such introduction; news that a new book of Gunn's poems has arrived is enough to start their celebrations.

Still, Boss Cupid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 111 pages; $22) offers a splendid introduction for the uninitiated....

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