Haiku Collection about Dreams by Komachi

The topic of comparing dreams to reality is a prevalent theme in Heian poetry written by women, indicating that disappointments in reality often led to a reliance on dreams as a venue for the fulfillment of desire.

In the examples below, dreams as the path toward the fulfillment of unrequited love contributed significantly to Komachi’s reputation as a passionate female poet.

Love KKS 552. Ono no Komachi [Topic unknown]

Did you come to me

nureba ya hito no
because I dropped off to sleep

tormented by love?

yume to shireba
If I had known I dreamed,

samezaramashi o
I would not have awakened.

Love KKS 553. Ono no Komachi [Topic unknown]

utatane ni
Since encountering

koishiki hito o
my beloved as I dozed,

miteshi yori
I have come to feel

yume chô mono wa
that it is dreams, not real life,

on which I can pin my hopes.

In the two poems above, Tsurayuki’s claim of harmony between men and women in the sentiments expressed by Komachi does not seem to be substantiated. The poetic stance suggests that she has been long neglected by her lover to the point that the only chance of seeing him is in the realm of dreams. Even her dream (yume) is interrupted because she is too tormented (omoitsutsu) to continue the state of sleep necessary to sustain the dream encounter. In the following poem, she is only able to nap (utatane), not able to reach a restorative state of sleep necessary to sustain a dream that is fulfilling. Dissatisfaction looms large on the horizon when she must rely on dreams rather than reality to actually meet her lover.

Love KKS 656. Komachi. [Topic unknown]

utsutsu ni wa
In the waking world

sa mo koso arame
you must, I suppose, take care,

yume ni sae
but how it pains me

hitome o moru to
that you should keep out of sight

miru ga wabishisa
even in the realm of dreams.

Constantly on guard to avoid becoming the target of rumor, women concealed liaisons from the eyes of aristocratic society to the best of their ability. Cruel irony indeed, laments Komachi, he does not visit her in the world of dreams where society’s censure does not apply. This suggests that the border between reality (utsutsu) and dreams (yume) is fluid and psychologically porous. Along the same lines, Komachi considers bending the rules of society, propelled by the force of love. Only on a dream path (yumeji) would women dare to tread.

Love KKS 657. Komachi. [Topic unknown]

kagiri naki
Yielding to a love

omoi no mama ni
that recognizes no bounds,

yoru mo komu
I will go by night—

yumeji o sae ni
for the world will not censure

hito wa togameji
one who treads the path of dreams.

Love KKS 658. Komachi. [Topic unknown]

yumeji ni wa
Though I go to you

ashi mo yasumeru
ceaselessly along dream paths,

the sum of those trysts

utsutsu ni hitome
is less than a single glimpse

mishi goto wa arazu
granted in the waking world.

Even though meeting in dreams is better than nothing, the fleeting quality of dreams renders assignations there no more than a moment in reality. Though she walks constantly along the path of dreams, satisfaction, let alone, harmony between the genders remain elusive in the world of reality.

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