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

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Charles Tomlinson

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1Above Manhattan

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2Fountain

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3Revolution, Piazza di Spagna

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4To Vasko Popa in Rome

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5Winter Journey I (1)

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6Winter Journey IV

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7To My Daughter

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8Jessica Learned to Kiss

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9After the Poetry Reading

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10Colloquy with a Grandchild

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11A Given Grace

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12A Rose for Janet

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13Event

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14Paring the Apple

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

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16John Mayhew, or The Allotment

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17At Stoke

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18Etruria Vale

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19The Marl Pits

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20News

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21Epidauros

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22Against Travel

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23Las Trampas, U.S.A.

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24Jemez

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25A Death in the Desert

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26Arroyo Hondo

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27Mr. Brodsky

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28Assassin

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29On the Late Plane

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30A Sense of Distance

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31During Rain

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32Drawing down the Moon

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33The Door

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Books by Charles Tomlinson