Friday, January 25, 2013

A lesser-known romantic poet

Or perhaps you've all heard of her and I'm not quite the hipster that I thought.

Ono no Komachi was a waka poet in Japan circa 850 AD. Waka is a bit complicated to explain, especially since there are multiple forms of it, but essentially they are short poems with unique constraints, like a sonnet.

It's pretty amazing that Komachi is considered one of the six great waka poets of all time, taking into account how few women could even read or write back then. Her complex love poetry is filled with passion and longing, and resonates just as clearly today as it must have when she wrote it.

Here's one of my favorite poems by her:

Was I lost in thoughts of love
When I closed my eyes? He
Appeared, and
Had I known it for a dream
I would not have awakened.

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