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 Carcanet Press Ltd.

Charles Tomlinson in the Poetry Store

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