Mushrooms

By Charles Tomlinson b. 1927 Charles Tomlinson

for Jon and Jill

Eyeing the grass for mushrooms, you will find
A stone or stain, a dandelion puff
Deceive your eyes—their colour is enough
To plump the image out to mushroom size
And lead you through illusion to a rind
That's true—flint, fleck or feather. With no haste
Scent-out the earthy musk, the firm moist white,
And, played-with rather than deluded, waste
None of the sleights of seeing: taste the sight
You gaze unsure of—a resemblance, too,
Is real and all its likes and links stay true
To the weft of seeing. You, to begin with,
May be taken in, taken beyond, that is,
This place of chiaroscuro that seemed clear,
For realer than a myth of clarities
Are the meanings that you read and are not there:
Soon, in the twilight coolness, you will come
To the circle that you seek and, one by one,
Stooping into their fragrance, break and gather,
Your way a winding where the rest lead on
Like stepping stones across a grass of water.

Charles Tomlinson, “Mushrooms” from Selected Poems 1955-1997. Copyright © 1997 by Charles Tomlinson. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Selected Poems: 1955-1997 (1997)

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Poet Charles Tomlinson b. 1927

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Nature, Eating & Drinking, Trees & Flowers

Biography

Poet, artist, and translator Charles Tomlinson was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1927. Fluent in German, French, and Italian, he read English at Queen’s College Cambridge, studying with poet Donald Davie who was an early influence and later became a close friend. Tomlinson taught elementary school before joining the University of Bristol, where he taught for 36 years. His collections of poetry include Relations and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Eating & Drinking, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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