Peter Robinson

At New Year (1990)


Fumiko, it was your idea
to take an early morning stroll
between the yacht marina pier
and trading harbour mole.

A coaster lay off in the tide,
From behind low cloud a clear
rose-pink disc, the new decade,
had started to appear.

On Tsu beach a driftwood fire
drew watchers of the trickled gore
which made old aspirations stir,
dyed waves that lapped the shore—

world pasts, each unstaunched nation
bathed clean should no familiar
shadow on this swelling ocean
flood in with the year . . .


Last letters, a spattered uniform,
smoke-plumed aerial photographs
fill the military’s ambivalent museum
at Yasukuni; epitaphs,

emblems from a dream of empire,
uniqueness, hating foreigners, fear
of weakness, suchlike did inspire
that brave but was it necessary
dying for a moribund idea.


Feet stretched under a kotatsu
your minute Christian grandma
nearly fifty years a widow
slept on her tatami.

Half a life she’s kept his shrine
in the provincial seaside home.
It had reminded me of mine.
Here I am made welcome.




Peter Robinson was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1953. He has taught in Japan since March 1989, first at Kyoto University and since April 1991 at Tohoku University at Sendai, where he is Visiting Professor of English Literature. He is the author of five collections of verse from Carcanet Press, Selected Poems (2003), About Time Too (2001), Lost and Found (1997), Entertaining Fates (1992), and This Other Life (1988). ‘At New Year’ appears in Lost and Found. The poem is addressed to Fumiko Horikawa.

Peter Robinson’s other books include Poetry, Poets, Readers: Making Things Happen (Oxford UP, 2002, available in the UK here, in the US here), In the Circumstances: About Poems and Poets (Oxford UP, 1992, available here and here), and the translations The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems (Tonbridge, Kent: Worple Press, 2002, available in the UK here), When I Was at My Most Beautiful and Other Poems 1953-1982, by Noriko Ibaragi (with Fumiko Horikawa, Cambridge: Skate Press, 1992), and Selected Poems of Vittorio Sereni (with Marcus Perryman, London: Anvil Press, 1990, available here and here).

Further on-line information about Robinson and his work may be found at Peter Robinson’s own web site, here.




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Peter Robinsons books
at Carcanet Press
(click on the cover or the title to buy
or for further information)

Peter Robinson, Selected Poems
Selected Poems (2003)

Peter Robinson, About Time Too
About Time Too (2001)

Peter Robinson, Lost and Found
Lost and Found (1997)

Peter Robinson, Entertaining Fates
Entertaining Fates (1992)

Peter Robinson, This Other Life
This Other Life (1988)