Japanese Poetry, The Masters

Empty Bowl: Two Poems


In the blue sky a winter goose cries.

The mountains are bare; nothing but falling leaves.

Twilight: returning along the lonely village path

Alone, carrying an empty bowl.


Foolish and stubborn – what day can I rest?

Lonely and poor, this life.

Twilight: I return from the village


– Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)
From ‘One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan