Poem on the Theme of Snow

Musō Soseki Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 228

Musō Soseki, the expert calligrapher of this verse, was one of the most influential Zen priests of the fourteenth century, having trained under the Chinese émigré Yishan Yining (Japanese: Issan Ichinei; 1247–1317). This poem on the theme of snow describes the experience of watching the sun rise over a winter landscape:

Icy flowers fall, obscuring the color of the sky.
Jade dust buries the earth, masking the blue mountains.
As the sun rises over the peak—
Bone-chilling silence.

Written by a clumsy old stutterer
—Translation after Edwin A. Cranston

Poem on the Theme of Snow, Musō Soseki (Japanese, 1275–1351), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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