'A Mediation on John Constable' - Charles Tomlinson and his poetical concept

Seminar Paper, 2000

12 Pages, Grade: 2


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. „A Mediation on John Constable“ – Charles Tomlinson and his poetical concept
2.1 The poet and the painter
2.1.1 The poet Charles Tomlinson
2.1.2 The painter John Constable
2.2 The poem
2.1.1 The structure of the poem
2.1.2 The content
2.1.3 The style
2.3 The essence

3. Conclusion

4. Works Cited

A Mediation on John Constable ( 1958 )

“Painting is a science, and should be pursued as an inquiry

into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not landscape

painting be considered as a branch of natural philosophy,

of which pictures are but the experiments ?”

( John Constable, The History of Landscape Painting)

He replied to his own question, and with the unmannered

Exactness of art; enriched his premises

By conforming his practise: the labour of observation

In face of meteorological fact. Clouds

Followed by others., temper the sun in passing

Over and off it. Massed darks

Blotting it back, scattered and mellowed shafts

Break damply out of them, until the source

Unmasks, flood its retreating bank

With raw fire. One perceives ( though scarcely )

The remnant clouds trailing across it

In rags, and thinned to a gauze.

But the next will dam it. They loom past

And narrow ist blaze. It shrinks to a crescent

Crushed out, a still lengthening ooze,

As the mass thickens, though cannot exclude

Its silvered-yellow. The eclipse is sudden,

Seen first on the darkening grass, then complete

In a covered sky.

Facts. And what are they ?

He admired accidents, because governed by laws,

Representing them ( since the illusion was not his end )

As governed by a feeling. The end is our approval

Freely accorded, the illusion persuading us

That it exists a human image. Caught

By a wavering sun, or under a wind

Which moistening among the outlines of banked foliage

Prepares to dissolve them, it must grow constant;

Though there, ruffling and parted, the disturbed

Trees let through the distance, like white fog

Into their broken ranks. It must persuade

And with a constancy, not to be swept back

To reveal what it half-conceals. Art is itself

Once we accept it. The day veers. He would have judged

Exactly in such a light, that strides down

Over the quick stains of cloud-shadows

Expunged now, by its conflagration of colour.

A descriptive painter ? If delight

Describes, which wrings from the brush

The errors of a mind, so tempered,

It can forgo all pathos; for what he saw

Discovered what he was, and the hand – unswayed

By the dictation o f a single sense –

Bodied the accurate and total knowledge

In a calligraphy of present pleasure. Art

Is complete when its human. It is human

Once the looped pigments, the pin-heads of light

Securing space under their left restrictions

Convince, as the index of a possible passion,

As the adequate gauge, both of the passion

And its object. The artist lies

For the improvement of truth. Believe him.

1. Introduction

If you look at a list showing the most important English poets in 20th century literature, Charles Tomlinson is often one of the persons you will miss, or at least, only find in the background. Instead, the list is fixed on poets like Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin or Seamus Heaney. This has got several reasons: it is not the fact that Charles Tomlinson has published only a few works, but it is the difficulty to put him and his poems in one category. Tomlinson, who has published since 1950 in each decade, has been influenced by the different conceptions about art throughout the years.

The poem I want to analyse was written in 1953, at the beginning of Tomlinson’s writing, in a time, when English poetry was dominated by the realistic style of writing of the Movement poets. This poem deals about the English painter John Constable, who is famous for his landscape paintings and especially his cloud pictures. The poem is a good example to show Tomlinson’s position towards the term of “art” in general and his opinion about contemporary poetry. As he is today most famous for his poems about natural phenomena, this poem can be regarded as one of his most meaningful ones.

The upcoming analysis should discuss this poem in order to its content, structure and style and should especially answer the question where in the 20th century Tomlinson and his concept of poetry should be integrated and where he stands for.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


'A Mediation on John Constable' - Charles Tomlinson and his poetical concept
University of Potsdam  (Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)
PS '20th century English poetry'
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
515 KB
Mediation, John, Constable, Charles, Tomlinson, English
Quote paper
Bernd Evers (Author), 2000, 'A Mediation on John Constable' - Charles Tomlinson and his poetical concept, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/54905


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