Charles Tomlinson, poet – obituary

cHARLES_TomlinsonPoet, translator and scholar whose Englishness was enriched by international perspectives Charles Tomlinson, who has died aged 88, was a poet, graphic artist, university professor and translator, who made a substantial contribution to English poetry.

Tomlinson was not a Movement poet, not part of Ian Hamilton’s Review, not a “confessional” poet and not in any way a rebellious declamatory poet – his poem “Against Extremity”, for example, is a trenchant defence of the middle ground. The fact that he was not part of any identifiable school meant that he defied easy categorisation.

Tomlinson’s early collections included The Necklace (1955) and Seeing is Believing (1958). The American critic Calvin Bedient described his arrival into the world of post-war poetry: “Into an area crowded with hedonists, mystics, rapturous aesthetes, [he] comes equipped with a chaste eye and a mind intent upon exactitude.”

Tomlinson, despite his interests in American poetry (in particular Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams), was a very English poet who took a philosophical interest in landscape, buildings and topography, describing his writing as having “roots in Wordsworth and Ruskin”.

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