The temple bell dies away

by Matsuo Basho

English version by R. H. Blyth
Original Language Japanese

The temple bell dies away.
The scent of flowers in the evening
Is still tolling the bell.

-- from This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, Edited by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Twilight in springtime, with evening descending. We sit with Basho on his porch beneath the eaves of his house.

The temple bell itself has already rung and fallen silent. We hear its sustained reverberation as the echo fades into the failing light.

With eyelids half closed, we breathe in the evening air and catch the honeyed scent of spring blossoms. Another breath, slow and deep, in through the nose. Hold it for a heartbeat to taste the sweetness on the air. A delicate moment, suspended and timeless. Then an easy exhale.

As the temple bell fades, a new tone takes its place. We hear a new ringing, clear and pure, in the inner ear. The bell may be silent, but it still rings within us, calling the awareness to prayer.



Recommended Books: Matsuo Basho

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) Haiku Enlightenment The Four Seasons: Japanese Haiku
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The temple bell