17 Poems of Master Hōnen



O mist of spring, thou hidest all things beautiful and bright,
As if there did not shine the true, imperishable light!


I gaze and gaze each passing day
On the geranium sweet,
And for the happy day I yearn
My Amida to meet.


If from Buddha Amida
My heart its col'ring gains,
It will be like the beauteous boughs
In autumn's crimson stains.


If in the winter of our sin,
Amida's name we call,
Warm rays from Him will chase away
The cold and snowdrifts all.


Dear life itself is not too dear
For woman's love to give.
For joys eternal, then, why fear
To sacrifice and live?

My Mountain Home

Above the thatch of my mountain home
The white clouds morning and evening hover.
Ah! When shall the hour of that day come
That the Ojo* purple me shall cover?

*Ojo: Birth in Amida's Pure Land.

Exclusive Practice

Ill seems each occupation
That would free the heart from blame,
Compared with invocation
Of the Buddha's sacred Name.

Seek the Land of Bliss in Youth

To seek the Land of Bliss
In early years
Will leave for life's fair end
No doubts or fears.

The Cicada

Like the cicada that has cast
Its shell but sings its rapturous lay,
The voice of him who call His Name
From the frail body of this clay,
His heart to scenes of Paradise
Already having flown away.

Amida's Light

There is no place where the moonlight
Casts not its cheering ray;
With him who has the seeing eye
Alone that light will stay.

The "Most Sincere Heart"

In quest of Ojo*, need it be that any fall?
Sincerity of heart is lacking, that is all.

*Ojo: Birth in Amida's Pure Land.


Ten times Amida's Name shall pass my lips
Ere I repose.
My last long slumber shall begin some time,
And when, - who knows?

The Pine of a Thousand Years

Pine of a thousand earthly years,
I dwell beneath thy shade,
Till by the Lord of Boundless Life
My welcome home is made.

The Little Pine

It’s called the little pine, - I marvel why,
Its towering branches seem to touch the sky.

The Heart of Man

The heart of man is like the water of a mere:
You know not whether it will be turbid or clear.

The Precious Memory of Old Friends

First in the Blessed Pure Land
When I shall attain my birth
Shall be the precious memory
Of friends I left on earth.

The Glorious Vision of the Pure Land

The Pure Land's glorious vision
Is bliss that man may claim,
If he but worthily repeats
Amida's sacred Name.