Ano Eremita

一休宗純 Ikkyū Sōjun (1394-1481)

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Once Ikkyu, clad in his customary shabby robe and tattered hat, went to beg at the door of a wealthy family's home. He was roughly ordered around to the back of the estate and given scraps.


The following day, Ikkyu appeared at a vegetarian feast sponsored by the family, but this time Ikkyu was decked out in the brocade robes of an abbot. When the large tray of food was placed before him, Ikkyu removed his stiff robe and arranged it in front of the tray. "What are you doing?" the startled host asked. "The food belongs to the robe, not to me," Ikkyu replied as he got up to leave.


  • John Stevens : Wild Ways
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When Kaso ( his 'master') presented Ikkyu with an inka, a seal of enlightenment, Ikkyu hurled it
to the ground in protest and stomped away. Despite this and other difficulties between
master and disciple, Kaso said, "Ikkyu is my true heir, but his ways are wild."


After Kaso died, in 1428, Ikkyu indeed went his own wild way, calling himself a
"crazy cloud." He spent much of his life as a vagrant monk, wandering here and there in
the environs of Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Sakai. Ikkyu mingled with all manner of people,
from the highest (he had several meetings with the retired emperor Gokomatsu) to the
lowest (he often traveled in the company of beggars). Ikkyu was the darling of merchants,
who loved his antic style, yet at the same time he was a defender of the poor against
greedy landlords. On occasion Ikkyu played Robin Hood - taking money set aside for a
rich man's funeral and spending it on the homeless, for example.


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Ikkyū Sōjun : Poems of Love




Lady Mori rides in a cart

In the phoenix cart, the blind girl often goes on spring outings. 
When my heart is oppressed, she likes to comfort my melancholy.

Even though most people make fun of her,
I love to see Mori, so fair a beauty she is.


Calling my hand Mori's hand 

My hand, how it resembles Mori's hand.
I believe the lady is the master of love play;
If I take ill, she can cure the jewelled stem.
And then they rejoice, the monks at my meeting.


Wishing to thank Mori for my Deep Debt to her

Ten years ago, under the flowers, I made a fragrant alliance;
One step more delight, affection without end.
I regret to leave pillowing my head on a girl's lap.
Deep in the night, cloud-rain, making the promise of past, present and future.


. . . . .

The love poems to and about the blind girl Mori are quite surprising. They are witnesses to a tender love. It is strange enough that it should be a Zen monk writing these poems, but that it should be a profligate Zen monk over seventy years of age experienced in all the wiles of debauchery is all the more incredible. It is obvious that this love preoccupied his heart for the last years of his life. 


~ Sonja Elaine Arntzen
The Poetry of the Kyounshu 'Crazy Cloud Anthology' of Ikkyū Sōjun

Edited by Ano Eremita
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