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Ten Poems by Rengetsu

The nun Otaku Rengetsu was a prolific artist, calligrapher and poet whose generosity and resilience is an inspiration particularly for women practitioners everywhere. She is a guiding spirit at Gristmill Hermitage.

Rengetsu's Hut & Grave Stone

Autumn Moon
Fearing my past is exposed
to the moon,
I keep looking down
this evening.

Water in an Old Temple
Leaking from the rock
in an old temple,
water barely trickles -
the voice
of the lingering dharma.

Brush Doodling
Just playing
not doing
anything special -
the drawn traces
of an ink-soaked brush.

Snow on Water
I see it dust
the river wind
then vanish -
fragile snow over water
disappears from my sight.

Firefly in the Field
Even if a thought 
of the firefly grass 
it may light up as a firefly
in a remote field.

like white clouds
from beginning to end -
a thing of mystery
is this heart.

Longing in the Wind
I await my beloved
who is not yet here.
The moon in the pines
and voice of the wind
provoke my longing.

Evening Plum Blossoms
The perfume of plum blossoms
reaches even the sleeves
of my ink-dyed robe -
my aching heart
penetrates the evening.

My Wish Under the Moon
How I wish
to die in autumn 
not to be lost,
even in darkness.

Death Poem 
My wish is to see
a cloudless moon
above the lotus flower
in my next life.


(Translations by Kazuaki Tanahashi, Joan Halifax)

The Poetry of Rengetsu
Afterword by Bonnie Myotai Treace
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