Approaching year’s end,
east of the river
the weather turns cold.

At the wilderness temple,
dusk spreads
to river and sky.

No wine I know
can melt
this night.

I follow a monk,
who shuts
the gate early.

Lamplit walls
stunted shadows.

Roof tiles
bearing snow
creak constantly.

Drifting about in the world,
I still have
a thousand li to travel;

but just now,
I want to lose myself

in the temple’s pure chanting of sutras.


From Where the World Does Not Follow: Buddhist China in Picture and Poem, © 2002 by Mike O’Connor and Steven R. Johnson. Reprinted with permission of Wisdom Publications.