Peter Robinson

Silence Revisited (2003)

‘What silence
penetrating rock
the voice of the cicada’
Matsuo Bashô

After the gauntlet of parking attendants,
present vendors, signs
any tourist trap wants,
one early May we were making that climb
again up a cliff-front
with pauses and vertigo
at breath-taking stone steps, outcrops, viewing platforms
precarious on their narrower ledges.

From here I look down to the hills’
profiles in a haze;
for, yes, there was mist across valleys this time
all seen without alien
sensations of years ago,
with no ten years’ bickerings, sulks or resentments,
tit-for-tats, cries . . .
In the silence, I was wondering where they had gone.

Here again, the eyes have it; they’re ravished
by ivy inching on a wall,
the azaleas’ moment under bruised skies,
and because by temple plots
I was tempted still to pick a quarrel
but thought better of it,
as if the sounds had all been absorbed into the rock,
it seemed that what the landscape wanted
was only for us to rise above it.




‘Silence Revisited’ has not been previously published and is © Peter Robinson. The earlier visit to Yamadera to which the poem refers is the subject both of Robinson’s Deep North and the fourth section of Charles Tomlinson’s ‘Zipangu’.

For a note about Peter Robinson and his titles in print see At New Year.





















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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)