Charles Tomlinson

Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

One day, the secretary of our English department at the University of Bristol told me she was going to have a child. "When your baby arrives," I said to her, "I will give you a rose". I don't know where this fanciful idea came from. Well, the baby arrived. When the secretary returned to work, the first thing she said to me was "Where's my rose?" "Just one moment," I replied, "I will go and make you a rose." And here is the result.

A Rose for Janet

I know
this rose is only
an ink-and-paper rose
but see how it grows and goes
on growing
beneath your eyes:
a rose in flower
has had (almost) its vegetable hour
whilst my
rose of spaces and typography
can reappear at will
(your will)
whenever you repeat
this ceremony of the eye
from the beginning
and thus
learn how
to resurrect a rose
that's instantaneous
and perfect now

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