Lunching at Stephen Spenders’ in 1946, T.S. Eliot admired his host’s transparent cigarette case. Spender sent it to him with this verse:
When those aged eagle eyes which look
Through human flesh as through a book,
Swivel an instant from the page
To ignite the luminous image
With the match that lights his smoke —
Then let the case be transparent
And let the cigarettes, apparent
To his x-ray vision, lie
As clear as rhyme and image to his eye.
The sudden unexpected gift
Is more precious in the eyes
Than the ordinary prize
Of slow approach or movement swift.
While the cigarette is whiffed
And the tapping finger plies
Here upon the table lies
The fair transparency. I lift
The eyelids of the aging owl
At twenty minutes to eleven
Wednesday evening (summer time)
To salute the younger fowl
With this feeble halting rhyme
The kind, the admirable Stephen.