Analysis of Donahue's Sister from Thom Gunn’s The Passages of Joy

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Thom Gunn, an English poet who has spent most of his life living in the United States, is a member of what has come to be called the "Movement". Members of the Movement "rejected what seemed to them the Romantic excesses of the New Apocalypse (whose most prominent member was Dylan Thomas), and. . .were equally dissatisfied with the modernist revolution led by [Ezra] Pound and [T.S.] Eliot" (Ellmann and O’Clair 1335). Gunn has criticized modernists for "strengthen[ing] the images [in their poetry] while...banishing [the] concepts" (Qtd. in Ellmann and O’Clair 1335). Members of the Movement "sought greater concreteness and a less high-flown diction for poetry" (Ellmann and O’Clair 1335).

Thom Gunn is known for writing poems that
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It is the alcohol he is talking to, not her, and it’s not willing to listen to what he has to say. But, when the drinking stops again, and the effects of the alcohol wear off, he will be able to get through to her. That is, she will listen to him and be able to comprehend what he is saying, but she will not "understand" the importance of what he is trying to tell her.

The lines, "When he does get through, / next week, it will all sound / exaggerated" (9-11) reveal the hopelessness of the man’s situation. By the time the woman sobers up enough for him to speak intelligently with her, the relevance of the things he wants to say will have diminished with the passing of time. It is like with all things in life—what seems desperately important and upsetting to us today may seem insignificant and laughable to us tomorrow. The man will probably still feel deeply about the larger effects that her actions are having—on her, on him, and on others. The specific indiscretions or injuries that he mentions, though, will probably sound ridiculous to her, and may even sound trifling to the man himself. His comments would have had much more impact if given in context, but they could not be because she was too inebriated to communicate with. Even though the man knows that she will not understand the importance of what he has to say, he feels compelled to try anyway. He knows that she will offer an insincere apology simply to appease him. She will feel only as if she

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