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.