In the temple yard knelt to discuss a problem hard Confucius, by a jar of azure cloisonne where flowers in pleasure danced alway.
By a porcelain bowl,
Gotama, candid and calm of soul, sat looking splendid as if he were made for eternity: a statue of jade and apathy.
Under a clump of dry bamboo, frog in a hump, squatted Lao Tzu in beggar tatters, by a pot of clay … and he smiled at matters beyond today-Each great sage was to taste and test as beverage of the Emperor’s best vinegar, and to pronounce what its merits were and the price per ounce.
Confucius tried with his lac-rosed nail,
and his mouth was wried and his gold skin pale:
O, sour and sour as impropriety!
Unfit for the flower of our society!
The Buddha’s hand wore the Wheel of the Law;
it was nobly grand as a lion’s paw.
He took a taste: It is bitter as bitter
It’s a waste not to make it sweeter.
But the Old Boy sipped his pot to the dregs
and smiling-lipped, with tickle-legs,
he said: It is sweet as sweet as life,
as the three-inch feet of my Wu-Wei wife.
O, sweet and sweeter as life grows too! Is yours sour and bitter? The taste is you! Then he whistled a crane and flew from the yard, leaving the twain there thinking hard.