Arthur Seymour John Tessimond

Arthur Seymour John Tessimond Poems


Cats no less liquid than their shadows
Offer no angles to the wind.
They slip, diminished, neat through loopholes
Less than themselves; will not be pinned

I am the unnoticed, the unnoticable man:
The man who sat on your right in the morning train:
The man who looked through like a windowpane:
The man who was the colour of the carriage, the colour of the mounting

One day people will touch and talk perhaps
And loving be natural as breathing and warm as

The birch tree in winter
Leaning over the secret pool
Is Narcissus in love
With the slight white branches,

This is not Love, perhaps,
Love that lays down its life,
that many waters cannot quench,
nor the floods drown,

This trumpeter of nothingness, employed
To keep our reason dull and null and void.
This man of wind and froth and flux will sell
The wares of any who reward him well.

If a man says half himself in the light, adroit
Way a tune shakes into equilibrium,
Or approximates to a note that never comes:


This shape without space,
This pattern without stuff,
This stream without dimension
Surrounds us, flows through us,

Light's patterns freeze:
Frost on our faces.
Light's pollen sifts
Through the lids of our eyes ...

I, after difficult entry through my mother's blood
And stumbling childhood (hitting my head against the world);
I, intricate, easily unshipped, untracked, unaligned;
Cut off in my communications; stammering; speaking

When you are slightly drunk
Things are so close, so friendly.
The road asks to be walked upon,
The road rewards you for walking


To walk as you walk, green eye, smiler, not
Even ostentatiously alone but simply
Alone ... arching the back in courteous discourtesy,
Gathering the body as a dancer before an unworthy

Clothes: to compose
The furtive, lone
Pillar of bone
To some repose.

Ice-cold fear has slowly decreased
As my bones have grown, my height increased.
Though I shiver in snow of dreams, I shall never
Freeze again in a noonday terror.

The clock disserts on punctuation, syntax.
The clock's voice, thin and dry, asserts, repeats.
The clock insists: a lecturer demonstrating,
Loudly, with finger raised, when the class has gone.

Under the lips and limbs, the embraces, faces,
Under the sharp circumference, the brightness,
Under the fence of shadows,
Is something I am seeking;

Blame us for these who were cradled and rocked in our chaos;
Watching our sidelong watching, fearing our fear;
Playing their blind-man's-bluff in our gutted mansions,
Their follow-my-leader on a stair that ended in air.

It is time to give that-of-myself which I could not at first:
To offer you now at last my least and my worst:
Minor, absurd preserves,
The shell's end-curves,

We expected the violin's finger on the upturned nerve;
Its importunate cry, too laxly curved:
And you drew us an oboe-outline, clean and acute;
Unadorned statement, accurately carved.

Bells overbrim with sound
And spread from cupolas
Out through the shaking air
Endless unbreaking circles

Arthur Seymour John Tessimond Biography

Arthur Seymour John Tessimond (Birkenhead, July 19, 1902 - Chelsea, London May 13, 1962) was an English poet. He went to Charterhouse School, but ran away at age 16. After studying at Liverpool University, he moved to London where he worked in bookshops, and also as a copywriter. After avoiding military service in World War II, he later discovered he was unfit for service. An eccentric and an Imagist, Tessimond wrote astute, elegant, urban poetry. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and received electro-convulsive therapy. He first began to publish in the 1920s in literary magazines. He was to see three volumes of poetry were published during his life: Walls of Glass in 1934, Voices in a Giant City in 1947 and Selections in 1958. He contributed several poems to a 1952 edition of Bewick's Birds. He died in 1962 from a brain haemorrhage. In the mid-1970s he was the subject of a radio programme entitled Portrait of a Romantic. This, together with the publication of the posthumous selection Not Love Perhaps in 1972, increased interest in his work; and his poetry subsequently appeared in school books and anthologies. A 1985 anthology of his work The Collected Poems of A. S. J. Tessimond, edited by Hubert Nicholson, contains previously unpublished works. In 2010 a new collected poems, based closely on Nicholson's edition, was published by Bloodaxe Books. In April 2010 an edition of Brian Patten's series Lost Voices on BBC Radio Four was committed solely to Tessimond.)

The Best Poem Of Arthur Seymour John Tessimond


Cats no less liquid than their shadows
Offer no angles to the wind.
They slip, diminished, neat through loopholes
Less than themselves; will not be pinned

To rules or routes for journeys; counter
Attack with non-resistance; twist
Enticing through the curving fingers
And leave an angered empty fist.

They wait obsequious as darkness
Quick to retire, quick to return;
Admit no aim or ethics; flatter
With reservations; will not learn

To answer to their names; are seldom
Truly owned till shot or skinned.
Cats no less liquid than their shadows
Offer no angles to the wind.

Submitted by Stephen Fryer

Arthur Seymour John Tessimond Comments

Jaye Tee 15 July 2008

I have read an interesting poem called Jamaican Bus Ride by A.S.J. Tessimond, but I did not see it on the list of poems above. Jamaican Bus Ride The live fowl squatting on the grapefruit and the bananas in the basket of the copper-coloured lady is gloomy but resigned. The four very large baskets on the floor are in everybody's way, as the conductor points out loudly, often, but in vain. Two quadroon dandies are disputing who is standing on whose feet. When we stop, a boy vanishes through the door marked ENTRANCE; but those entering through the door marked EXIT are greatly hindered by the fact that when we started there were twenty standing, and another ten have somehow inserted themselves into invisible crannies between dark sweating body and body. With the odour of petrol both excessive and alarming we hurtle hell-for-leather between crimson bougainvillea blossom and scarlet poinsettia and miraculously do not run over three goats, seven hens and a donkey as we pray that the driver has not fortified himself at Daisy's Drinking Saloon with more than four rums: or by the gods of Jamaica this day is our last! By A.S.J. Tessimond, ENGLAND

21 10 Reply
Dilki 19 June 2021

It would be great if the poem can be provided with an analysis by someone in order to realise the figurative meaning of the poem

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Tim Devereux 16 December 2014

I have a copy of 'England' by A.S.J.Tessimond, enclosed in one of my Dad's WW2 letters to my Mum. Interesting, powerful poem. Does anyone know if it is in any of his published collections? Thanks TFD

4 10 Reply
David Mort 16 January 2019

It was a privilege to be taught how to be a copywriter by him - although he was hardly a lover of advertising.

1 0 Reply
Pepe the frog 16 March 2018

I will get u in the night when you least expect me...

4 1 Reply
Monsieur Sauvage 07 March 2018


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mmmmm 07 March 2018


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Ann Thoson 10 December 2017

I am searching for a lovely poem that he wrote about a witch weaving a spiders web which relates how lives are connected by thin threads like a web. I can remember one line '....remember the words in the books you are burning' Anyone know it I have been looking for it for years

7 3 Reply

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