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How Poets See the WorldThe Art of Description in Contemporary Poetry$
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Willard Spiegelman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332926.001.0001

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“Just Looking”:Charles Tomlinson and the “Labour of Observation”

“Just Looking”:Charles Tomlinson and the “Labour of Observation”

(p.26) Two “Just Looking”:Charles Tomlinson and the “Labour of Observation”
How Poets See the World

Willard Spiegelman

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Charles Tomlinson and the “labour of observation” which he admires in visual or literary artists. His poetic technique favors a small number of fairly conventional poetic forms and a vocabulary richly loaded with polysyllabic, Latinate, and, above all, descriptively accurate terminology. The best analogy for Tomlinson's method is the tension which he has noticed between the supposed objectivity of nineteenth-century science, which separates the observer from the observed, and the methods of Cézanne and post-Impressionist painting, “an outward gaze that would draw the sensuous world closer to the inner man and that would narrow the gap between abstraction and sensation, between intellect and things.” Although he seldom deals overtly with philosophical, especially metaphysical, questions, Tomlinson qualifies as an important phenomenological poet; his language and form force his readers to confront a verbal reproduction of his own confrontation with an external scene.

Keywords:   Charles Tomlinson, labour of observation, polysyllabic, Latinate, Cezanne

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