Friday, August 14, 2009
Poetry Friday - The Tanka of Ono no Komachi
Ono no Komachi is a legendary Japanese poet who became famous around 850 CE. She was supposed to have been a stunningly beautiful woman with many admirers, but she was also supposed to have been a bit of a snob and very cruel. She broke the hearts of many men and, as punishment, the gods gave her a long life. She grew old and ugly, and died all alone, a shriveled up hag of a woman.
Her poetry, however, has not withered with time. It is just as beautiful today as it was when she wrote it over 1,000 years ago. Here are a few of my favorites.
On such a night as this
When no moon lights your way to me,
I wake, my passion blazing,
My breast a fire raging, exploding flame
While within me my heart chars.
Now that I am entering
The winter of life,
Your ardor has faded
Like foliage ravaged
By late autumn rains.
I thought to pick
The flower of forgetting
But I found it
Already growing in his heart.
Grown fragile, floating,
A reed cut from its roots...
If a stream would ask me
To follow, I'd go, I think.
Tanka 1 - translated by Earl Miner
Tanka 2 - translated by Helen Craig McCullough
Tanka 3 & 4 translated by Hirshfield & Aratami
More about tanka
More about American tanka
More tanka by Ono no Komachi
Andromeda Jazmon at a wrung sponge is hosting this week's Poetry Friday.