Afflicted with an incurable stammer The novice acolyte constantly endured The mockeries of the senior monks Within the confines of the monastery Where Yōsuke was given the name Dōshin Who sought the Way to Liberation

Without the precincts was an island in a lake Where the Temple of the Golden Pavilion stood A triple-tiered structure covered in gold leaf Its thatched pyramid roof topped with a bronze Phoenix The lake pristinely mirrored the Golden Pavilion Unrippled even by the dozens of multicoloured carp 


The ornamental koi had various hues and designs of great beauty Deep scarlet, rose, blanche, silvered blue And one that was completely gold just as the Pavilion itself The lake was surrounded by a ring of beige stalks of withered lotuses As a cold December sunset gilded the roof The scenery took on sublime majesty

The Pavilion contrasted greatly with Dōshin's tormented mind His disfigured body with a club foot and a scar that cut deep From his elbow to his shoulder blade Yōsuke envied the glorious beauty outside Where visitors would gaze at its splendour Mockeries continued however diligently he strived to be free


In the stillness of the midnight He crept out of the monastery confines A gently arching bridge led Yō to the gilded island It was despair that took him there With just a small pile of fallen leaves Yō ignited a fire That within a few minutes set ablaze the entire Golden Pavilion

Yō intended to perish within the flames that licked the blistering gold leaf Climbing the steps to the upper chamber Whose inner walls were also covered in gold leaf He banged and shook the locked door but it wouldn't open In a fit of reversal he fled dashing over the all consuming fire Back to the shore and up the nearest hill

On the hilltop he sat under a crooked pine And gazed on at the pyromaniac conflagration that he had created To him it was somehow a magnificent fire that lit up the sky Illuminated at its zenith with Venus shining brightly A crescent moon hid low behind a red pine covered hillside And Yō lit a cigarette like someone at the end of a good day's work 

As the sintered charcoal beams caved in And the burnt balustrade plunged into the waters Yō admired the spectacle of vermillion licks He just sat there shivering on a moss covered rock The sirens of police cars whirred in the distance Their red lights revolving against the piney woods

Snow began to fall lightly at first But soon covered the green of the pine needles And the branches began to bend a little He just sat there thinking about a golden koi Somewhere out in the lake Motionless in the depths just flickering its fin Over a sunken bed of crimson


 〜 With a deep bow to Yukio Mishima

三島 由紀夫 (1925 –1970), a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, film director. The poem is abridged from his novel "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion 金閣寺"

Paintings by kind permission of Daniel Kelly


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