Flying Above California: A Poem by Thom Gunn

From His Collection New Selected Poems

November 26, 2018  By Thom Gunn

Flying Above California

Spread beneath me it lies—lean upland
sinewed and tawny in the sun, and
valley cool with mustard, or sweet with
loquat. I repeat under my breath
names of places I have not been to:
Crescent City, San Bernardino
—Mediterranean and Northern names.
Such richness can make you drunk. Sometimes
on fogless days by the Pacific,
there is a cold hard light without break
that reveals merely what is—no more
and no less. That limiting candour,
that accuracy of the beaches,
is part of the ultimate richness.


Excerpted from New Selected Poems by Thom Gunn, edited by Clive Wilmer. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux November 13th 2018. Copyright © 1954, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1967, 1971, 1976, 1982, 1992, 2000 by Thom Gunn. Selection, introduction, and notes copyright © 2017 by Clive Wilmer. All rights reserved.

Thom Gunn
Thom Gunn
Thom Gunn (1929-2004) was born in England but lived in San Francisco for most of his life. He was the author of two volumes of essays in addition to his volumes of poetry. Thom's poetry books include Boss Cupid and The Man with Night Sweats.

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