Ono no Komachi - Haiku

Among the Six Poetic Geniuses described in the Kokinshû preface was a female poet, Ono no Komachi, about whom Tsurayuki offers the following critique: “Ono no Komachi belongs to the same line as Sotoorihime of old. Her poetry is moving and lacking in strength. It reminds us of a beautiful woman suffering from an illness. Its weakness is probably due to her gender.” Despite Tsurayuki’s criticism, he included eighteen compositions by Komachi in the first royal anthology.

Komachi was a classic even during her time: she lived in the 9th century. She was noted as a rare beauty; Komachi is a symbol of a beautiful woman in Japan. She also figures among the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.
Below is an example of her work:

Original Context:
In words:
yumeji ni wa
ashi mo yasumezu
utsutsu ni hitome
mishigoto wa arazu

A line-by-line translation of this would be:
in [my] dreams / along dream paths
without resting my legs
[I] go often [to you]
in the real world, a single glimpse
is different.

kayoedomo is from kayou "to commute", "to come and go". kayoe is the izenkei form; domo is a suffix like keredo, meaning "although...".
hitome means "a glimpse". Usually it is written as 一目, but hito also means "a person", so hitome implies by this ambiguity that its a glimpse of a person, and a loved one. Anyway, this is a love poem...
mishi is the rentaikei of miki, the past tense of miru, "to see". In modern Japanese, it would be mita.
arazu means "there is no" (arimasen in modern Japanese), and "it is not, it is different" (de wa nai). Actually, somewhere I read another translation of this poem, I can’t recall it exactly, but something like this:
"I go often to you in my dreams, but I never see you in the real world."
This is also a possible translation but if we would be reading it like this, then, where is the poesy?

Long ago during my college literature class a poem from Ono no Komachi, in English translation was discussed. Since then it has been one of my favourites:

Though I go to you
ceaselessly along dream paths,
the sum of those trysts
is less than a single glimpse
granted in the waking world.

Men pined for a glimpse of her, or her handwriting - and she wrote poems of such intense passion and yearning that it still captivates the soul.
She was punished for the power she held over men’s minds though, and in the end as her beauty faded she became as nothing to the men who had once been obsessed with her.

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

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