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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "A Legend of Kwannon"

A Legend of Kwannon

Marvelling greatly, they carried it to the shrine of Kwannon the Merciful, and when they had cleared away the deep snow, all of them went in to worship. There smiled the image of the sweet heavenly lady, golden among her golden flowers. In her right side there was a gash where the gilded wood was cut away. Then the poor folk from the valley reverently brought that which they had found in the hermit’s pot, and set it in the gash. And immediately the wound was healed and the smooth gold shone over the place. All the people fell on their faces, but the hermit stood singing the high praise of Kwannon the Merciful.

The sun set in glory. The valley folk crept softly from the shrine and went down to their own homes. The cold moon and the stars shone upon the Lone Pine and the Floating Bridge and the sea. Through a rent in the shrine’s roof they illumined the face of Kwannon the Merciful, and made visible her manifold arms of love. Yet Saion Zenji, her servant, stood before her singing in an ecstasy, with tears upon his face:

“O wonder-woman, strong and beautiful, Tender-hearted, pitiful, and thousand-armed! Thou hast fed me with thine own flesh— Mystery of mysteries! Poor dead dappled hind thou cam’st to me; In the deep of mine own heart thou spoke to me To keep, yet break, and breaking, keep thy law— Mystery of mysteries! Kwannon, the Merciful Lady, stay with me, Save me from the perils of illusion; Let me not be afraid of the snow or the Lone Pine. Mystery of mysteries— Thou hast refused Nirvana, Help me that I may lose the world, content, And sing the Divine Song.”

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