quinta-feira, maio 15, 2008

Ono no Komachi, Legendary Poet

Ono no Komachi, Legendary Poet
Writer, Beauty, Celebrity, Her Scandalous Reputation Endures
Helen McCarthy
May 6, 2008

Over a thousand years ago, a noblewoman became one of Japan's greatest poets and caused romantic scandals. She's commemorated in legend, theater, railroads and rice.
Legend says Ono no Komachi lived a long life. She was a great poet whose work is still read and studied. Her personal name is a synonym for beauty. Yet, like Sappho and other early female poets, there are few recorded facts about her life.
Her work, primarily concerned with love, passion and solitude, suggests a life filled with legendary love-affairs. Legend and gossip have filled the gaps for centuries.
Life in Imperial Kyoto
Komachi was probably born into a literary family, in Ono village (present-day Akita Prefecture) early in the ninth century AD. Devotees still travel to Northern Japan for an annual festival in Ogachi to commemorate her birth.
She was definitely sent to the Imperial court in Kyoto. She may have been an attendant or consort to Emperor Ninmyo, although she is not mentioned in household records.
She died before 900 AD, allegedly old and destitute - perhaps in Ikaga, where the Onosan Myoshoji Temple dedicated a memorial tablet on a mound said to be her grave, though other rumoured graves exist.
Legends of Ono No Komachi
The legends of her lovelife say that Komachi was proud and cruel. Dashing courtier Shii no Shoshu fell madly in love with her in autumn, but was told that she would not meet him until he'd travelled from Kyoto to wait outside her house at Fukakusa every night for a hundred nights.
He trudged through rain and snow faithfully until, on the 99th night, he froze to death. Komachi's punishment for her pride was to die a poor, lonely old hag.
This wishful thinking on the part of moralizers is probably untrue. We have no record of Komachi's death. But her legend is founded on more than just beauty. In the cultured, literate Heian court, she was regarded as one of the greatest poets of her era.
Poetic Genius of the Heian Era
Most of her poetry is dated to the period 833-857, and it appears from the poems that she knew or corresponded with other notable poets. Although only about 20 poems that are definitely hers survive, they are so moving and powerful that her status remains secure.
She wrote tanka, also known as waka - five lines consisting of 31 syllables, usually arranged 5,7,5,7,7. Into this tiny package she compresses passion, yearning and complexity - one of the most skilled technicians of her era, working with heartbreaking intensity.
The Kokinshu, an anthology commissioned by the Emperor Daigo around 900, names her as one of the Six Poetic Geniuses of Japan.
Early Japan's Scandalous Celebrity
Like a modern rock star or actress, she was so fascinating that gossip about her survived for over a thousand years, growing more lurid with time. Paintings, prints, short stories and plays about her supposed racy youth and desolate old age were popular in Japan from around 1200 AD, and the legend endures today.
In modern times, Yukio Mishima revived her legend in his stage work, "Five Modern Noh Plays". The shinkansen, or bullet train, to Akita is named Komachi, and so are premium brands of rice and sake.
Poet, love goddess and legend - Ono no Komachi's life may be shrouded in mystery, but her fame endures.
For more information see
KEENE, Donald, Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century, ISBN 0805019995
HIRSHFIELD, JANE and ARATANI, MARIKO, The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems, ISBN 0679729585

FONTE (image include): http://world-poetry.suite101.com/

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