Haiku Collection about Love by Komachi

Sustaining the theme of the lonely lady Komachi’s use of autumn imagery provides clues that the relationship is nearing its end, the woman waiting in vain for a visit from her lover.

Perhaps the woman has even been abandoned, making her vigil for his visit even more poignant. Using seasonal metaphors for autumn linked to the theme of “love forsaken” is a common device found in waka composition, but it is handled expertly in the following poem: 

Love KKS 822. Komachi [Topic unknown]

akikaze ni
Because I trusted

au tanomi koso
someone who grew tired of me,

my life, alas, must be

wa ga mi munashiku
as empty as a rice ear

narinu to omoeba
blasted by harsh autumn winds.

Autumn signifies the cooling of a relationship that mirrors climatic conditions, or suggests a decline in physical health in categories outside love, once again following seasonal associations of decline before the onset of winter. Here the image of emptiness (munashiku) relates not only to the ear of rice, but also to the hollow feeling within the person who has been cast aside by her lover. Autumn is homophonous with aki (satiated or grow tired), creating a verbal link with the theme of abandonment and the season of decline. Although the double entendre is conventional, placed in the hands of a gifted poet, it can be effective.
Autumn imagery can also be employed to suggest something more consonant with successful courtship as in the following example when passions still ran high:

Love KKS 635. Komachi [Topic unknown]

aki no yo no mo
Autumn nights, it seems,

na nomi narikeri
are long by repute alone:

au to ieba
scarcely had we met

koto zo to mo naku
when morning’s first light appeared,

akenuru mono o
leaving everything unsaid.

This poem is perhaps the best example expressing harmony between the sexes since neither the man nor the woman has tired of the other, and the desired meeting does take place, inadequate though it may have been. There is no one who can express regret at parting more poignantly than Komachi, using clever turns of phrase to imply ironically that autumn nights (aki no yo no mo) are long only in name (na nomi narikeri) to emphasize the truth in the statement that time flies when you are in good company.

Ise, a near contemporary of Ono no Komachi, is another female poet Tsurayuki must have admired for he included twenty-two compositions by her in the Kokinshû. Her poetic style utilizes much of the same rhetorical devices found in those by Komachi, as in the example below:

Love KKS 741. Ise [Topic unknown]

furusato ni
Since your heart is not

aranu mono kara
an abandoned capital

wa ga tame ni
sinking in ruin,

hito no kokoro no
why should your feeling for me

arete miyuramu
seem to wither away?

The next composition by Ise features the image of the moon, linked to the theme of the lonely lady from Chinese poetry and, in the case of Heian Japan, the woman who waits for a man to visit. Moon imagery often figures in love poetry as in the poem below.

Love KKS 756. Ise [Topic unknown]

ai ni aite
How fitting it seems

mono omou koro no
that tears should dampen the face

wa ga sode ni
even of the moon,

yadoru tsuki sae
whose image visits my sleeve

nururu kao naru
as I sit lost in sad thought.

The moon (tsuki), both the source of water and yin, is charged with wetting the woman’s sleeves, another conventional image that frequently appears in both prose and poetry to suggest sadness. The charm of this composition is that instead of the woman crying, it is the orb itself that cries and wets the sleeves of the woman when it visits.

An anonymous composition with the lonely lady topic and related image of the moon and autumn presents an interesting view of similarities between seasonal and love poems.

Autumn KKS 184. Anonymous [Topic unknown]

ko no ma yori
To see moonlight fall

morikuru tsuki no
filtering though the branches

kage mireba
is to awaken

kokorozukushi no
to the coming of autumn,

aki wa kinkeri
the saddest season of all.

Following a trail of tears, we find another related poem by Komachi that displays not only double entendre (kakekotoba), but also associated words (engo) centering on water.

Love KKS 782. Ono no Komachi [Topic unknown]

ima wa tote
Even your pledges,

wa ga mi shigure ni
leaves of words, have lost their green

now that falling tears

koto no ha sae ni
dim my youth as drizzling rains

transform autumnal foliage.

If you want to read more of Komachi’s work then you may visit the links below:

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