Monday, April 1, 2013

Some Japanese Poems - R B Marriott Watson (1918)

The rediscovered translations of a young poet of the Great War...

“We spend forty-eight hours in the trenches and forty-eight in the village - which is about three hundred yards behind. It is intensely cold and we have had snow. The trenches are in a fearful state of mud...Nevertheless, there is much that is beautiful. For instance, the moonlight on the frosted barb-wire entanglements makes them look most ethereal - a twisted tangle of white strands, deathly still in the cold light....”

Richard Brereton Marriott Watson was reported missing in action in March 1918, and later presumed dead. The son of a novelist and a poet, he had taught himself Japanese so that he could translate some of the exquisite and fugitive verses in that country’s literature. They were published in a journal just one week before he was lost: he probably did not live to see them in print.

Now his versions of the Japanese poems have been rediscovered and brought back into print for the first time. Jo Valentine has created a limited, numbered edition of 25 handmade books which respond to the young translator’s work in a sympathetic and striking design, using Japanese hand-made paper and Japanese stab-binding. Mark Valentine provides a short introductory note about R.B. Marriott Watson.

The book is the first publication of their new imprint, Valentine & Valentine. Other titles are in preparation. 

UPDATE, 3 April 2013: all copies have now been taken. Thank you for your interest. A new title will be announced soon.


  1. Looks like a beautiful book - sadly, I missed it! And certainly a worthy subject.

  2. I have a website for his father, which includes Richard..
    just google H.B. Marriott Watson - Reg Watson