Artist's Studio, New Year's Eve

after Kotaro Takamura

Let’s not leave the moist clay, earthenware to freeze,
My love.

Tonight the kitchen larder will be empty – no matter.
Let’s warm the fire.

In the bedroom, the blankets may thin out
And you may clutch a pillow,

Shivering, in early light – no matter.
Let’s not leave the moist clay, earthenware to freeze.

I will be your sentinel, sleepless in midwinter,
Letting loose the mercury’s

Thin column, a brigade against the gale.
Though we may find the world has left

The two of us alone – no matter. New Year’s day.
My love, let’s warm the fire.


  1. A New Year's offering.

    As anyone who has attempted a direct translation of Kotaro Takamura's poems, some of them are difficult to place in an understandable English context.

    As such, I have departed in many ways from the original in my adaptation, to provide - in my personal opinion - an approximation to the tonal and metaphorical intent.

    As always, my hope is that this effort will complement the work done by talented translators such as Leanne Ogasawara, Paul Archer and John G. Peters, and help introduce Takamura - and his celebrated poems to his wife Chieko - to more readers.

    Short link -

  2. i like what you have presented here. Although, I cannot compare it to the original, it stands nicely in this form.

    Happy New Year

  3. this has a wonderful down-to-earth and warm sensuality ...Let’s not leave the moist clay, earthenware to freeze... gives me goose bumps..but good ones.. happy new year to you sam!

  4. This is a warm and evocative New Year's Even poem. I love "Let's warm the fire."

  5. the sensuality in this sam...and clay is such a great vehicle for this...leaving finger prints, smoothing out, working it...have a wonderful new year word artist

  6. Poignant, beautiful reflection. May your year be filled with warmth and creative inspiration.

  7. The images in this are clean and refreshing as snowmelt--whether translation or interpretation, the reading was pure pleasure. Thanks, Samuel, for bringing it to us, and a very happy and bright New Year to you.

  8. Anonymous8:00:00 PM

    what can be better than staying warm with the one you love?

  9. Anonymous9:26:00 PM

    Lovely, sweet piece ... unless you live in the South. We're still wearing shorts on some days. :)

  10. oh and glad we are to have you translate it! I am not familiar with his work, but shall look it up now after reading this great write! nice work!

  11. Sometimes, love 'is' all we need... beautiful. Nice to meet you here.

  12. Anonymous6:32:00 PM

    This is so romantic ... and spare with great depth... love your translation

  13. Wonderful write. QUite well done!

  14. Sometimes a world of two is all I want. Happy new year to you, sir.

  15. Beautiful and so romantic!

  16. Nice invitation! Happy New Year!

  17. Thanks all! Wanted to re-underline that this isn't a translation but an adaptation, as are Ezra Pound's adaptations of Li Po's poetry, a re-invention of the original.

  18. A re-invention then, is much better. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I liked this very much. It was romantic and a wonderful tribute. Well done!

  20. Nice work! And congratulations on a great translation--there is a warmth and sensuousness about this piece that I love---



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