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A Ballad Footnote – a poem by Peter Robinson


‘that little tent of blue’

Oscar Wilde



We’re driving east in the winter sun,

its rays, a reddish yellow dazzle.

Reality testing, phenomenal,

they’re splayed about the far horizon


and cast on walls a leafless shadow.

Up ahead, the gibbous moon

rises above built-environment neon

waxing in that tent of blue …



Then round the perimeter of Reading Gaol,

we pick out by its locked front entrance

an agent’s board with the words: FOR SALE.


But whether, behind, that remnant glow

or ahead this pallid, chilly distance

weighs and finds us wanting, I don’t know.


12 December 2019

Peter Robinson is the poetry editor for Two Rivers Press and teaches at the University of Reading. His TRP publications include Bonjour Mr Inshaw, The Constitutionals: a Fiction, and Foreigners, Drunks and Babies: Eleven Stories.

The Two Rivers Press illustrated edition of The Ballad of Reading Gaol is available here.

1 thought on “A Ballad Footnote – a poem by Peter Robinson

  1. […] Robinson’s poem about Reading Gaol being put up for sale (‘A Ballad Footnote’), with its associations of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, depicts an eerie, unsettling landscape, […]

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