Charles Tomlinson

Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

In an essay on education, the French writer Simone Weil talks about the way an act of attention is at the very heart of real education. She says, rather severely, each time we truly attend we destroy some of the evil within. Here's a poem about the act of attention involved in just looking.

A Given Grace

Two cups,
a given grace,
afloat and white
on the mahogany pool
of table. They unclench
the mind, filling it
with themselves.
Though common ware,
these rare reflections,
coolness of brown
so strengthens and refines
the burning of their white
you would not wish
them other than they are-
you, who are challenged
and replenished by
those empty vessels.

from Selected Poems 1955-97 (OUP, 1997), copyright © Charles Tomlinson 1997, used by permission of the author and the publisher


Charles Tomlinson

Charles Tomlinson Reading from his Poems

1Above Manhattan


3Revolution, Piazza di Spagna

4To Vasko Popa in Rome

5Winter Journey I

6Winter Journey IV

7To My Daughter

8Jessica Learned to Kiss

9After the Poetry Reading

10Colloquy with a Grandchild

11A Given Grace

12A Rose for Janet


14Paring the Apple

15The Picture of J.T. in a Prospect of Stone

16John Mayhew, or The Allotment

17At Stoke

18Etruria Vale

19The Marl Pits



22Against Travel

23Las Trampas, U.S.A.


25A Death in the Desert

26Arroyo Hondo

27Mr. Brodsky


29On the Late Plane

30A Sense of Distance

31During Rain

32Drawing down the Moon

33The Door

Books by Charles Tomlinson