Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism

Harold Stewart

Autumn Landscape Roll
A Divine Panorama

Personages Represented
Cantos 5 to 8
Cantos 9 to 12
Cantos 13 to 16
Cantos 17 to 20
Cantos 21 to 24
Cantos 25 to 28
Cantos 29 to 32

[ Synopsis and Introduction ]


Wu Tao tzü

"But look! The skeins of geese arriving span
The sky and write the words for 'one' and 'man'."

Chang Chih-ho

"And yet they have been here since time began."

Down the sky in file the wild geese tack,
Slanting their obliquely angled track
To reach the estuary's banks of sand,
Where basalt blocks have sunk along the strand.
The leader there comes skidding in, to sit
On a long splash, for the sheer sport of it:
His broad tail feathers fan to break the flight,
His webbed feet splay, and his red legs alight,
Fixed in the instant's clear aquamarine,
So still the surface water is, so green.
To wash his travel dusty feathers clean,
He ducks, and ladles over back and head
Wingfuls of water, till its trickles spread.
Next he stands upright in the water rings,
Throws out his breast,and flaps his wide wings;
Then sits again, and shakes his tail to shed
Stray superfluous drops that diamonded
His oily coverts; then, with beak depressed,
Worries the grey pin plumage at his breast,
Restoring comfort with a fluffed unrest;
And last, his bathing over, preens and grooms
Down smooth and trim his toilet ruffled plumes.
More glide in after him. The others land,
Pinions aloft, and settle on the sand,
Where flatly snapping bills hiss and contest
Scraps of aquatic weed not long possessed.
Pushing a fold of glass against the stream,
One paddles in pursuit of his own gleam.
Another stoops his pliant neck to sip
This running ripple with the glassy lip,
And cranes to swallow after every dip.
A third, whose beak tugged at the wavering weeds,
Lifts their dripping ribbons up and feeds.
Riding the inlet's undulancy, a fleet
Of geese sets out across its glaucous sheet;
But a snapped stick startles one among
The floating flock. Instantly all are sprung!
As low over the water skims each pair,
The wing tip beaten downward through the air
Touches it's upward beaten image there.
Once in the central sky, they travel south
Beyond the sandspit at the river's mouth,
Beyond the dim horizon. All are gone.
But, like a drift of feathers dropped upon
The refluent air after their wings have flown,
A soft grey flocculence of cloud is strown,
Hovering, while invisible waves of wake
Diverge and on the mountains, sprayless, break.

Wu Tao-tzü

"They have migrated toward a warmer clime."

Chang Chih-ho

"They will be here now till the end of time."
A fitful breeze that springs up off the bay,
Bending the plume topped grasses all one way
And carrying silver seeded fluff astray,
Just as suddenly drops. At once the rushes'
Thicket of dried whispers thins and hushes
To a faint rustle. Nothing stirs the brake.
Chang winds his fishing line in from the lake:
Wu's face is lost in an astonished look,
For dangling thence is neither bait nor hook!

Wu Tao-tzü

"How can you ever hope to catch a stray
Tadpole, though you angle here all day?
That is no way to get a bite! You need
A tempting bait : some juicy worm or weed
To hide the hook of cunning, if you wish
To cast the right enticement for a fish."

Chang Chih-ho

"Ah! But that's not what I was fishing for!"
He poles his lean black punt away from shore.
The layered sheets of haze that intervene
Leave no trace that he has ever been .....

Into infinite distance, sad and clear,
Recede the miles of autumn atmosphere:
With pale citron tone, the watery light
That shines out after rain washes their height.
The autumn mountain, swept as neat and clean
As the tidy winds can, reclines serene:
No twig is out of place, no leaf is seen
Of all that tarnished ruin of gold which lay
So densely underfoot till yesterday,
Claimed by the earth as tribute for decay.
Upon its sides the naked forests brood,
Locked in a crystalline disquietude
And looped with sleeping vines and beards of moss,
Despair for want of leaves, the season's loss.
Each tall gauntly calligraphic tree,
Forked against the light's sour clarity,
Soars with static branches, sparse and bare,
In that remote and disappointed air.
An empty vast, the autumn waters lie,
Merging into the open sea of sky.
Slowly the ebb goes out, and from the height
Drains away the westering tide of light.

Ah! The evening's mood is growing late.
The peasant enters now his brushwood gate.
The garden, overgrown with grass and weed
Where spires of wilding lettuce run to seed,
Lies drenched with recent rain and desolate.
A sulphur coloured butterfly chases its mate
Over the fence with devious flutterings:
They are the only autumn leaves with wings.
The altered air that chills the end of day
Makes the fishing nets and tackle sway
Gently over on their bamboo poles.
And now a temple bell remotely tolls
The still and solemn hour; now holds its peace.
The work of men, the year's affairs decrease.
Now lamps are lit in windows, far and near:
See, through the yellow dusk their flames appear.
Within the peasant's hut two suppers wait.
Ah! the evening's mood is growing late.
A smooth moon in the laminated haze
That weaves above the water till it frays
Into gossamer trails, is hanging low
Its pallid disc, too early yet to glow.
Beside this languid marsh the artist walks.
Still to the old and withered lotus stalks
The rattling seeds in conic pods adhere,
The round leaves droop, their flounces torn and sere.
The last few willow leaves spin as they sift
On the despondent pond their falling drift,
Where, like yellow sampans, they are thrust
Aimlessly along by a tired gust.
To strand in a backwater. There some dust
Is spent and settles, where the waste becalms
Among an undergrowth of roots with arms.
For now the world of nature is subdued
And grave with long autumnal lassitude.

Out on the lake, one solitary sail
Goes home into the world. With this detail
The old recluse aboard his fishing smack
Sketches in the landscape's only lack:
Its sheet, diminishing as outward blown.
One last wild goose wings on its way alone,
A flick of ink against the silken sky,
Gone with the echo from a far high cry....

Wu Tao-tzü

"A lone goose and a lone sail depart:
They do not leave the shore, they leave the Heart."


Hushed in the dusk, the holy mountain broods,
Remote in one of its mysterious moods
Of central calm, immense amid the shades
Whose inundation stealthily pervades
The valley till engulfed in eventide.
Though its foundations are submerged below,
The summit overhead can still aspire
Into the sky, where sunset's final glow
Lingers on that pagoda's roof, its fire
Gilding the finial as a sign to guide
The distant wanderer. No one is denied
Rest and refreshment there, who comes benighted,
Alone, or lost. Already Wu has sighted
Its nine gold rings, has rounded towering slopes
Seeking approach, and found with brightened hopes
A rugged staircase on the southern side
Abruptly rising in a long steep flight
Hewn from the rock to scale that darkening height.
At first the lower path is broadly paved
With formal flagstones, while the slope is slight
That passes through the mountain's gateless gate:
Open to all who come, however late,
To challenge dangers that must yet be braved.
Concerned that dwindling daylight should be saved
To reach the top before encroaching night
Has quenched that lofty gleam's encouragement.
Wu starts directly on the straight ascent
Into the forest. Sombre, imminent,
The huge coniferous columns hold aloof
In deep solemnity. Their boughs impend,
Arching above, where they enclose a roof
Over the countless steps, till these transcend
His vision raised to seek their hidden end.
Once Wu sets foot on this forbidding track,
His strong resolve that no impediment
Or mishap will obstruct his high intent,
No impasse turn his perseverance back
Before the summit, is preoccupied
Solely with climbing its primordial side.
Heedful of every upward step, he mounts
With deep unhurried breathing, while he counts
How often inhalation's heaving tide
Rises to fill his breast, how many times
Its evenly exhaling waves subside.
Carefully, step by step by step, he climbs
With calm uplifted gaze, three steps ahead,
Watching for pitfalls on these perilous stairs
Where, if undaunted nerve succumb to dread,
His feet might trip or stumble unawares.
Some slabs have broken since the stair was built
And, undermined by seepage, sunk or caved
Inward, with gaps and hollows not repaved.
Others are smoothly worn away by use,
Slippery with moss, or else dislodged and loose,
So that they treacherously lurch and tilt
Under his wavering weight. But though he falters,
His confidence is rock that never alters.
So that no qualm of climbing can distract
His body from its task, which thought impairs,
His mind restrains its interfering cares:
Attentive yet detached, he lets it act,
Trusting its steady regulated tread,
The ready skill of feet, and not his head.

But soon the gradient steepens: growing grim,
The strenuous ascent exacts from him
Sterner exertion, which begins at length
To strain his bodily reserves of strength.
His shorter respiration does not dare
Halt for a spell, but harshly gasps the air,
Which at this breathless altitude is rare
And chilly from the earth's expiring damp.
Wu does not hesitate with doubt, nor waste
His energies in overzealous haste,
But keeps on climbing at a constant tramp,
Forcing his fiercely aching calves and thighs
To walk, lest stiffening rigour paralyse
Their coldly sweating motion, seized by cramp
More agonizing than the torturer's clamp,
As frozen will is petrified with fright.

Though anxious crags encumbering the height
Threaten to tumble on his path and block
All advance with insurmountable rock,
In cautious trepidation he must creep
Across this narrow arch of stone, whose leap
Spans a plunging torrent's thunderous shock.
Where lofty overleaning branches throw
Despondent shadows that forebode the night,
Once more, between the trees, Wu catches sight
Of that pagoda's finial, like a star
Still radiating promise from afar,
Before illumination's afterglow
Fades from the peak.
              His reassurance dims.
Tiring at last, his trudging footsteps slow,
As weakness drains the vigour from his limbs.
But since each tread has narrowed, while its rise
Is higher than the trembling knee below,
Where his precarious foothold horrifies,
He cannot risk a glance to right or left,
For mists arrive, swirling round crag and cleft.
Whenever evening vapour's floating wreath
Is torn apart, there open up beneath
Fathomless chasms; then the sudden rifts
Are closed again by overclouding drifts.
Here delirium tempts the balanced mind
To vacillate. If fear should look behind
Into the awful void that yawns below,
Wu would be fascinated by the haunt
Of that delusive demon, vertigo,
Who treads the baseless air beyond the brink
In his abyss of dizziness, to taunt
And lure the traveller along its ledge
Till, panic gripped, sanity cannot think
But hurtles, headlong, from the crumbling edge.

The forest trunks thin out, admitting light
Beneath, and soon the rocky ground is bare,
Grasped by the roots of one heroic pine.
Emerging at this sparsely wooded height
Above the cloudbelt, where the atmosphere
Is tinged with autumn twilight, still and clear,
Wu is confronted by a single flight
Cut in the ridge's monolithic spine:
A granite ladder, whose degrees incline
Precipitously to lead the mountaineer
Into the heavens, where they disappear!

Now his eroded courage must not quail
Nor strength break down, as he prepares to scale
The sickening cliff that drops away in space
On either hand. If fortitude should fail
In this ordeal upon the sheer rock face,
Then, frantic or confused, he could misplace
One fatal footstep .....
                Till he ends his quest,
He dare not pause for breath nor briefly rest,
For no protective rail, no balustrade
Of stonework gives security or aid:
The iron chains to which the climber clings
For safety, strung along the mountain wall
So that the giddy pilgrim will not fall,
Are hanging slack and rusted from their rings.
Worn down with weariness, he bears the dead
Load of his,whole accumulated past,
Striving to raise its slow embodied weight,
A lifetime's deeds congealed as dense as lead
Into his mortal burden, up this last
Almost vertical stretch to gain the gate,
Hidden as yet, till hope discerns up there
Its tiled roof resting on the topmost stair.
His breath's endurance nears its utmost bound
Before collapse. His faster heart-beats pound
With urgent thunder. Just about to drop,
He struggles up those ultimate degrees,
Clinging and clambering on hands and knees
Till he can reach the stairhead's level ground.
Then, sinking on a flat stone at the top,
He lets prostrated mind and body rest
After initiation's drastic test.

A vast consoling quietude descends
Out of the cloudless heavens, which bestow
Their silent benediction on the steep.
The mountain's secret presence at this hour
Yields a serene and sanctifying power
To heal the exhausted spirit. Daylight ends
Within the darkened forest, far below,
Where garrulous birds have nestled down to sleep,
Even the faintest leafy rustlings cease,
Leaving these heights to solitude and peace.


Reviving from the climb's severe distress
As desperate breathing troubles less and less,
Wu can arouse his heavy limbs and rise,
But stands confronted by the temple's tall
Portentous gate, whose roof against the skies
Holds up its eaves, curving above his head,
With rafters, beams, and brackets widely spread.
Seeking admittance through the southern wall,
He blames his laggard body for delay
From need to rest because, to his dismay,
Those armoured doors of cypress that rebut
Nocturnal forces with protective plate
And boss of iron, are already shut:
For all his toil, he has arrived too late.

Wu stares, astounded : in those lofty stalls
Railed in before him by a picket fence
Between the gate's supporting pillars, stand
In solid ponderous presence that appals
Two pairs of huge bare feet! With tendons tense
Their clenched toes grip the craggy pedestals
That pave the earthen floor on either hand.
Above their ankles bony shin blades rise
To mighty legs of monumental size
Thewed with a Mongol wrestler's calves and thighs,
Exposing both their gnarled and knobbled knees
Beneath a short swirling of skirts that flare,
Swung to one side : all that those giants wear
On trunks as thick in girth as camphor-trees.
Their rugged torsos store up valour's staunch
Strength in a bulging deeply buttoned paunch.
Their chests are stalwart shields of bronze that bare
Broad pectorals with rosetted studs to scare
Mara's demonic horde, their enemies,
Whom they oppose with rigour, armed, immense,
And menacing in the Middle Way's defence.

Posted as guardians at the gate, that pair
Of warrior kings who wield the vajra's power
Maintain a sleepless vigilance to seize
The diabolical rabble, if they dare
Assault the solemn portals where they tower
To keep intact the sacred boundaries.
Flanking the left, the first gigantic twin,
Mi Chi, can boast the ruddy sunburnt skin
And hard bunched muscles of martial discipline.
Forcefully thrusting down his slant left arm
That bursts into a stark forbidding palm
With angry fan of fingers, stiffly splayed,
He bans the insurgent will's frustrated raid.
But if rebellious urges grow yet bolder,
His right arm, bent and raised above his shoulder,
Threatens to hurl that sudden thunderbolt
Of adamant which blasts with blazing awe
Impulsive ignorance, rising in revolt
Against the Dharma's world enlightening Law.
Of vast marmorial stature, deathly white,
Chin Kang, the second Yaksha, holds the right
Against invading doubts, which he disdains.
Rearing his right arm's sinew-corded might,
He shakes that minatory ball, his fist:
Profane and impious spirits quail with fright
And cringe beneath the enormous exorcist,
As taut with indignation he restrains
His wrathful gorge, cabled with swollen veins.
Grasping its hilt, knobbed with a meteorite,
His left hand grounds the indomitable mace
Of diamond, whose instant flashes chase
Scoffers and sceptics, routed in disgrace.
Reaching the gateway, Wu must lift his gaze
Yet higher, till inside the sentry bays
He can discern through dusk's confusing gloom
Where heads with imminent grimaces loom
Down from obscurity, foreboding doom.
The red irascible cheeks of Mi Chi warn
The intruder, whom his flaring nostrils scorn;
His fiery eyeballs glare with rage to pierce
Wu's rashness with their darts; inflamed and fierce,
His open mouth roars the primordial O
To challenge him who ventures past below.
As Chin Kan, under sullen brows that glower,
Points his pinched contemptuous nose to sneer
At Wu, whom mortal dread has forced to cower,
He hums with lips firmly compressed and grim
The ultimate M, intimidating him
Till his liver is chilled and churns with fear.
But a wild stole, blown upward by the gale
On which its billowing convolutions sail,
Has flung around each fervent porter's head
A buckled halo, turbulently red,
Wherein the restless ribbons that bind their hair
In topknots fret and flutter up on the air.

Those two perennial sentinels who wait
And watch his entrance, do not fulminate
Against Wu's reverent approach nor block
The destined pilgrim, humbly overawed,
But let him pass unharmed between their ward.
He knocks three times upon the panelled board,
Taking the Triple Refuge with each knock:
Slowly the massive double doors unlock
And swing wide open of their own accord.
Yet Wu's unnerved resolve still hesitates,
Daunted before those magisterial gates
One moment more : his indecisive will
Pausing upon the threshbold beam until,
With right foot first, he steps across the sill.


Treading the centre flagstones that divide
The cloister bordered courtyard seen inside,
To where the dark pagoda towers alone.
Built on a low square platform faced with stone,
Wu gazes upward at its five roofed height,
Whose hats of tile are tiered in silhouette
Against the nightfall's deepening violet.
He mounts the short front steps without a pause
Passing between the open double doors
Still folded back on all four sides to light
The inward chamber. Here a narrow flight
Of stairs more steeply climbs to higher floors,
Upholding which a single pillar soars
Centrally through the altar in its rise
To reach the finial that attains the skies;
But underneath the floor is firmly grounded
On Chia-yeh Buddha's relics, who expounded
The Dharma in the past.
                                                Amid the dim
Shadows that drape the altar facing him,
Wu sees the Future Buddha, Mi lo, seated
With pendant legs and ankles crossed, who waits
In Tushita Heaven till he transmigrates
To earth, when this last kalpa is completed.
His skirt of silken gauze, aethereal blue,
Round which a sash is elegantly tied
With tassels hanging at his hips' left side,
Falls from his waist in rapid pleat on pleat,
Flared like angular lightning toward his feet;
But leaves his youthful torso bare to view,
Although a jewelled necklace lies at rest
Upon his noble smoothly contoured breast.
On Mi lo's blissfully illumined face
Emerging from mysterious dusk within,
The last of twilight still can faintly trace
Features perfected by celestial grace:
Dwelling on almond lids that almost close
Over his sky enraptured eyes, the skin
Of calmly arching brows and classic nose;
Lingering on his pale gold cheeks and chin,
On lips that dream of waking in a while
Curved in Nirvana's enigmatic smile.
His crest, a little stupa, jewel set,
Blazons in front the tall five panelled crown
Of gilded bronze, with lappets sweeping down,
Which half conceals behind its intricate fret
Two lacquered hair knobs in the pageboy's style
Of T'ang, whence slender sidelocks that unroll
Over his shoulders, drop in scroll on scroll.
As Fifth Incarnate Buddha, next to come,
His gestures, index finger touching thumb,
Foreshow his advent, which will liberate
Mortals unborn from endless death and birth.
With right palm raised, he can elucidate
That path to freedom from the round of fate
Which, with his left palm lowered, he will give
In generous friendliness to all who live
When he restores the Dharma's rule on earth.
His presence here, so pure serene, and wise,
Silently reassures and prophesies
That if Wu's aspirations persevere,
He will achieve his quest before he dies
And choose the Bodhisattva's high career;
For which, with spiritual strength renewed,
He bows in reverent depth of gratitude.

The Four Celestial Kings, who order Space
And regulate the Four Great Elements,
Stand guard within this consecrated place,
Whence, as on Mount Sumeru, they survey
The Cosmic Quarters both by night and day
And guide the coloured seasons in their changes.
One at each corner round the central dais
Protects that compass point which orients
His realm among the earthly continents
Where men reside, in each a different race.
Beyond the Seven Gold Concentric Ranges
Washed by the Seven Fresh and Fragrant Seas,
Their geometric islands rise alone
Out of the Salty Ocean's farthest zone,
Ringed, by the Iron Mountains' boundaries.

As Buddhist guardians, the eight spoked Wheel
Of Dharma haloes each direction's king
With vajras radiant in a plain gold ring
Licked by the flames of fierce ascetic zeal.
As Heaven's generals also, they conceal
Superb brocaded robes, which decorate
Their regal figures, under armour plate.
The dauntless iron corselet that enwraps
Each back and breast, upheld by leather straps
And strengthened by a gilded border strip
And pectoral bosses, splendidly ornate,
Is bound with silken cords, lest it should slip.
Scrolled at the throat, a collar overlaps
The shoulder guarding pauldrons, which depend
As heads of wild beasts that debouch the sleeves,
Gathered in ruffles where the elbows bend
Above the vambraced forearms. Round both knees
Ribbons catch up the slackened draperies
Of trouser legs, tucked into golden greaves.
A military kilt's impervious mail
Of leather, reinforced by scale on scale
Of gilded iron, skirts the waist and hips,
But where a belt with lion's head buckle grips,
Biting the ventral apron hung between,
It drops to shield the thighs with brigardine.
Their ruthless boots have trampled underfoot
Imps of perversity, who stir up ill
Through mood and impulse flouting Heaven's Will.
Four dwarfed degenerate bodies, foul as soot,
Stubborn or headstrong, vainly struggle, still
Writhing frustrated, in their surly spite;
Grotesquely malformed hand or foot that grows
Three brutal claws, a brace of cloven toes,
Desperately clutching at the rock hewn bases
On which their conquerors trod them down in flight.
Hatred distorts with hideous grimaces
The wild boar's snout of each, uncouth and crude,
Whom cross-grained rage or rancour so disgraces
That from his vicious grin two tusks protrude.

Wu is staggered by the numinous might
And majesty that these statues emanate,
And while his footsteps circumambulate
The altar sunwise, always on his right,
Bows to the year's four sovereigns in turn,
Whom in the shadows he can still discern.

First, to the Regent who controls the East,
Ch'ih kuo, with face as freshly green as spring
In morning woods where leaves begin to shoot,
Wu offers homage. When this heavenly king,
Whose dragon robe of blue,beneath his suit
Of armour, streams like water, thaw released,
Plucks with ivory nails his four stringed lute,
The Cosmic Elements respond and sing.
He rules the music spirits, who rejoice
To build by mingling instruments and voice
His magic city shimmering in the air
With transient towers of sound, remote and rare,
Where they can dance in rich enchanted rooms
And hold their fragrant feasts of incense-fumes.

Next, to the Regent marshalling the South,
Tsëng-ch'ang, the eldest brother who assumes
The vanguard, with his visage blazing red
As noonfire but his body garmented
In earthen yellow parched by summer's drouth,
Wu bends with awe. Vermilion phoenix plumes
Flaunt from the gold ribbed helmet on his head
Who, as the giant goblins' overlord,
Arouses them to war with roaring mouth,
And while his halberd's banderole undulates,
Gives signal for the attack with brandished sword.
So, armed for mythic battle, they oppose
The Asuras' horde, their old titanic foes,
Who would assault the Tao-li Heaven's gates.

Then, to the Regent governing the West,
Kuang-mu who wears a tigerskin around
His waist, although in silk that flames as bright
As autumn sun through maples he is dressed,
Wu pays obeisance. Slender gold has crowned
His hair that fountains in a central crest
Above a countenance as calm and white
As moonrise from a lake that evening veils.
Over the serpent powers this tetrarch reigns,
Who in his left hand's mastery restrains
A questing dragon with metallic scales,
Which soaring spirally through the clouds has found
That luminous pearl, uplifted in his right,
From which translunar wisdom shines at night.

Last, to the Regent who commands the North,
To-wën, his features livid as a storm
Vaulting the air beneath its tortoise shell,
Which lightning lashes with a snake of wrath,
Wu bows in worship. Winter's sentinel
Is clad in midnight blue when he leads forth
His black battalions. Where those demons swarm
To keep the walls of Indra's citadel,
He wields his trident with a dexterous hand
Till its triumphant gonfalon unfurls.
As god of riches, corpulently grand,
His purse with copious mouth, a mongoose skin,
Disgorges from the hoard of wealth within
A lavish superfluency of pearls
Spilt as his bounty. He intently gazes
Toward the pagoda that his left palm raises:
Built in South India, this cast iron tower
Once opened at the mantric word of power,
So that Nagarjuna could enter, bidden
To memorise the tantric secrets hidden
By Vajrasattva, in its glowing hold,
And later write them down in texts of gold.

Having performed his ritual course around
The altar's axial column, Wu has found
Wei-t'o, the warrior posted at the back
Of Mi lo's statue, where he stands his ground
To guard the northern door against attack.
This young rapidly running general brings
Intelligence to and from the Deva Kings,
Ready to race at Shakyamuni's call.
As Tsëng-ch'ang's courier, he is helmeted
With frontlet crafted like a phoenix head,
And round the spike that on his crown ascends
A long red tassel hangs with windblown ends.
Behind his golden body armour swirls
An aureole of clouds in spiral curls
With flammulated rim. His bent right arm
Shoulders the Dharma's baton with the gem
Amid the lotus bud that tops its stem.
His left hand, outward turned to fend off harm,
Can both admonished pilgrims for delay
And speed them, reencouraged, on their way.

Wu, passing by this sentry still unbarred,
Descends the steps to cross the inner yard,
Where the two towers that hold the bell and drum,
Looming to right and left, are dark and dumb.
The middle pavement here directs his tread
To where the Buddha Hall, its wide façade
Blacker against the dusk, stands out ahead.

Two mythic lions in marble crouch on guard,
Of whom one bares his teeth, the other roars,
Flanking the nine front steps that Wu ascends
To reach this terrace with the cloud carved rails
Where, in the midst before the temple-doors,
A great bronze incense cauldron that attends
The entrance rests on triple lion's paws.
High overhead, from where the ridging ends
Trimmed with a pair of owls' recurving tails,
Steeply the roof's vast concave slope impends,
Its imbricated sweep like dragon scales,
While at each gable end the roofage dips
A shallow lap of tiles between its hips.
Along the front, three studded doors stand wide,
As though inviting Wu to step inside
The even deeper dark which there prevails.


Personages Represented
Cantos 5 to 8
Cantos 9 to 12
Cantos 13 to 16
Cantos 17 to 20
Cantos 21 to 24
Cantos 25 to 28
Cantos 29 to 32

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