Ono no Komachi

Selected Poems

Ono_no_Komachi 1

1

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.

2

How sad,
the end that waits me –

To think at last

I’ll be a mere haze

pale green over the fields.

3

Blossoms blooming
Yet making no seed are
The sea-god’s
Garlanded
Whitecaps offshore.

4

On such a night as this

When no moon lights your way to me,

I wake, my passion blazing,

My breast a fire raging, exploding flame

While within me my heart chars.

5

The flowers withered

Their color faded away

While meaninglessly

I spent my days in the world

And the long rains were falling.

6

A thing which fades

With no outward sign

Is the flower

Of the heart of man

In this world!

7

Whose bloom will fade,

And yet the color does not show,

Is this alone:

In the world of love the flower

That opens in the human heart.

8

In this bay

There is no seaweed

Doesn’t he know it -?

The fisherman who persists in coming

Until his legs grow weary?

9

More heart-wrenching than

To sear my body with live coals

Against my flesh,

Bidding farewell on Miyakoshima’s shore

As you part for the capital.

10

Did he appear,

because I fell asleep

thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have wakened.

11

The autumn night

is long only in name –

We’ve done no more

than gaze at each other

and it’s already dawn.

12

When longing for him

Tortures me beyond endurance,

I reverse my robe –

Garb of night, black as leopard-flower berries –

And wear it inside out.

13

Since encountering my beloved

While I dozed,

I have begun to feel

That it is dreams, not reality,

On which I can rely.

14

Tears that but form gems on sleeves

Must come, I think,

From an insincere heart,

For mine, though I seek to repress them,

Gush forth in torrents.

15

Yielding to a love

That knows no limit,

I shall go to him by night –

For the world does not yet censure

Those who tread the paths of dreams.

16

I know nothing

About villages

Where fisher folk dwell;

Why must you keep demanding

To be shown the seashore?

17

Now that I am entering

The winter of life,

Your ardor has faded

Like foliage ravaged

By late autumn rains.

19

How bitter it is to see

Autumnal blasts

Strike the rice ears;

I shall, I fear,

Reap no harvest.

20

This body

grown fragile, floating,

a reed cut from its roots…

If a stream would ask me

to follow, I’d go, I think.

21

Men call love

Is simply

A chain

Preventing escape

From this world of care.

22

His heart, grown cold,

has become my body’s autumn.

Many sorrowful words

may yet fall

like the rustling leaves.

23

I thought to pick

the flower of forgetting

for myself,

but I found it

already growing in his heart.

24

Those gifts you left

have become my enemies:

without them

there might have been

a moment’s forgetting.

25

Submit to you –

could that be what you are saying?

the way ripples on the water

submit to an idling wing?

26

The pine tree by the rock

must have its memories too:

after a thousand years,

see how its branches

lean toward the ground.

27

The hunting lanterns

on mount Ogura have gone,

the deer are calling for their mates…

How easily I might sleep

if only I didn’t share their fears.

28

Since this body

was forgotten

by the one who promised to come,

my only thought is wondering

whether it even exists.

29

This abandoned house

shining

in the mountain village –

how many nights

has autumn spent there?

30

If, in an autumn field,

a hundred flowers

can untie their streamers,

may I not also openly frolic,

as fearless of blame?

31

While watching

the long rains falling on this world

my heart, too, fades

with the unseen color

of the spring flowers.

32

Seeing the moonlight

spilling down

through these trees,

my heart fills to the brim

with autumn.

33

Upon my breast

Floats a boat of heartbreak

And I have just embarked;

There’s not a single day when waves

Do not soak my sleeves.

Ono no Komachi

(c. 825—c. 900)

Ono no Komachi (小野小町?, c. 825—c. 900) was a famous Japanese waka
poet, one of the Rokkasen—the Six best Waka poets of the early Heian period. She was noted as a rare beauty; Komachi is a symbol of a beautiful woman in Japan. She is also numbered as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.

The place of Komachi’s birth and death is uncertain. According to one tradition, she was born in what is now Akita Prefecture, daughter of Yoshisada, “Lord of Dewa”. Her social status is also uncertain. She may have been a low-ranking consort or a lady-in-waiting of an emperor, possibly Emperor Ninmyō (r. 833-850).

As a poet, Komachi specialized in erotic love themes, expressed in complex poems. Most of her waka are about anxiety, solitude or passionate love. She is the only female poet referred to in the preface of the Kokin Wakashū, which describes her style as “containing naivety in old style but also delicacy”.

There are legends about Komachi in love. The most famous is a story about her relationship with Fukakusa no Shosho, a high-ranking courtier. Komachi promised that if he visited her continuously for a hundred nights, then she would become his lover. Fukakusa no Shosho visited her every night, but failed once towards the end. Despairing, he fell ill and subsequently died. When Komachi learned of his death she was overcome with sadness.

Fernando Pessoa

Quotations

pessoa

– The poet is a pretender

Who’s so good at his act

He even pretends the pain

Of pain he feels in fact.

– I am nothing.

I will never be anything.

I cannot wish to be anything.

Bar that, I have in me all the dreams of the world.

– Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.

– My nation is the Portuguese language.

– I’ve always rejected being understood.

To be understood is to prostitute oneself.

I prefer to be taken seriously for what I’m not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect.

– I’m two, and both keep their distance — Siamese twins that aren’t attached.

– My past is everything I failed to be.

– We all have two lives: The true, the one we dreamed of in childhood And go on dreaming of as adults in a substratum of mist; the false, the one we love when we live with others, the practical, the useful, the one we end up by being put in a coffin.

– To have opinions is to sell out to yourself.

To have no opinions is to exist.

To have every opinion is to be a poet.

– I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else.

What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.

– But I am not perfect in my way of putting things. Because I lack the divine simplicity of being only what I appear to be.

– In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago.

And many of the seem to me written by a stranger:

I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else’s dream.

– There are metaphors more real than the people who walk in the street.

There are images tucked away in books that live more vividly than many men and women.

There are phrases from literary works that have a positively human personality.

There are passages from my own writing that chill me with fright, so distinctly do I feel them as people, so sharply outlined do they appear against the walls of my room, at night, in shadows…

I’ve written sentences whose sound, read out loud or silently (impossible to hide their sound), can only be of something that acquired absolute exteriority and a full-fledged soul.

– To love is to tire of being alone; it is therefore a cowardice, a betrayal of ourselves. (It is exceedingly important that we not love.)

– To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think.

– Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves. So that the self who disdains his surroundings is not the same as the self who suffers or takes joy in them.

In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people who think and feel in different ways.

– In my heart there’s a peaceful anguish, and my calm is made of resignation.

– Blessed are those who entrust their lives to no one.

– There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a
rule that doesn’t exist.

– I don’t know what I feel or what I want to feel. I don’t know what to think or what I am.

– I’d like to write the encomium of a new incoherence that could serve as the negative charter for the new anarchy of souls.

– Rocks in my path? I keep them all. With them I shall build my castle.

– Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.

– Let’s buy books so as not to read them; let’s go to concerts without caring to hear the music or see who’s there; let’s take long walks because we’re sick of walking; and let’s spend whole days in the country, just because it bores us.

Fernando Pessoa

(June 13, 1888, Lisbon – November 30, 1935, Lisbon),

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic and translator described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.

Certitude

Certitude

My reason is to lose all reason

My religion is indifference to religion

A simple answer is enough

After doubt, wine has borne my certitude

The day just broken is already done

Tomorrow is not yet here

Be happy today

Unceasingly fill your cup

And seize this

The sole chance of your existence

Although everything is born of ourselves

Yours and mine are

but two miserable lives

To be, is drunkenness and ecstasy

Tomorrow is the downfall of an age

Omar Khayyam

***

Omar Khayyam

(May 18, 1048 – December 4, 1122)

Was a Persian polymath: mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and above all poet.

As a poet, he is the most famous poet of the East in the West through various adaptations of his rather small number of quatrains (rubaiyaas) in Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

He has also become established as one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. Recognized as the author of the most important treatise on algebra before modern times as reflected in his Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra giving a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle. He also contributed to calendar reform and may have proposed a heliocentric theory well before Copernicus.

His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works have not received the same attention as have his scientific or poetic writings. Zamakhshari referred to him as “the philosopher of the world”. Many sources have also testified that he taught for decades the philosophy of Ibn Sina in Nayshapur where Khayyam lived most of his life, breathed his last, and was buried and where his mausoleum remains today a masterpiece of Iranian architecture visited by many people every yea.

Like water


The heart is like water

Passions agitate its surface

Rippling water in water

Creature-like, an utterance

Commingles both the good and bad

Like time, human beings body forth

As much of darkness as of light

Just as day illuminates before the night

So an extinguished star begets

Another brilliance

Similar to our vanished forbears

So we, similarly, must disappear

Time alone ensures its own endurance

As plainly as you can plainly see

Strangers in their native land are

Ardent practitioners of good

Whose intimates sever ties and turn

Frequentation to a widening gulf

Remember, should you have sealed

Friendship in the throes of poverty

Should prosperity arrive, remember

Al Ma’arri

Al-Ma’arri (full name in Arabic: أبو العلاء أحمد بن عبد الله بن سليمان التنوخي المعري, Abu al-‘Alā Ahmad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sulaimān al-Tanūkhī al-Ma’arri, December 26, 973–May 10 or May 21, 1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer. He was a controversial rationalist of his time, he attacked the dogmas of religion, and rejected the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth.

Abu ‘Ali al-Muhassin al-Tanukhi (Tanukhi) was born in Syria and lost his sight at the age of four due to smallpox. He hailed from the city of Ma’arra (المعرة) in Syria from which his name derives. He then went on to study in Aleppo, Antioch, and other Syrian towns pursuing a career as a freethinker, philosopher and poet before returning his native town of Ma’arrat al-Numan, where he lived the rest of his life, practicing asceticism and vegetarianism.

He briefly travelled to the center of Baghdad where he drew a great following of both male and female disciples to listen to his lectures on poetry, grammar and rationalism. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.

Although an advocate of social justice and action, Al-Ma’arri suggested that women should not bear children in order to save future generations from the pains of life.

Al Ma’arri was exerting a notable influence on Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”. His collection of poems “Unnecessary Necessity” charts the tragic dimension of human experience.

Wandering

Wandering


In life I see a treasure

Dilapidated with each night

Days escape this ruination

Only time is undermined

Such days shatter all deception

The man denied a crust of bread

A shirt to close, a time to meet

Will prove himself a hard binger

I rise to combat or for pleasure

Can your opprobrium immortalize?

In your impotence to say my death

Let me contemplate it with my means

Never will I cease to drink

And savor pleasure

In reckless squandering

Of property and heritage

Tarafah ibn al ‘Abd (c. 543-569)

Tarafa, or Tarafah ibn al ‘Abd ben Sufyan ben Malik al Bakri (Arabic: طرفة بن العبد بن سفيان بن سعد أبو عمرو البكري
الوائلي‎), was a 6th century
Arabian poet of the tribe of the Bakr.

After a wild and dissipated youth spent in Bahrain, left his native land after peace had been established between the tribes of Bakr and Taghlib and went with his uncle Al-Mutalammis (also a poet) to the court of the king of Hira, ‘Amr ibn-Hind (died 568-9), and there became companion to the king’s brother. Hira was as the time a vassal of the Persian
Sasanian Empire. Having ridiculed the king in some verses he was sent with a letter to Dadafruz Gushnasban, the Persian Governor of Southern shores of the Persian Gulf, but Tarafa and his uncle managed to escape underway.

One of his poems is contained in the Mo’allakat.

His Diwan has been published in Wilhelm Ahlwardt‘s The Diwans of the Six Ancient Arabic Poets (London, 1870). Some of his poems have been translated into Latin with notes by B. Vandenhoff (Berlin, 1895).

Time

Time

I clasp the stem of time

My head a fiery tower

What, then, is this blood

Ever rooted in the sand?

Flaming instants nullify our words

My soul’s forgotten its passion’s

Purpose, forgotten its heritage

Hidden in house of forms

Forgotten what the rain recounts

What the trees ink inscribes

What cleaves me from myself?

Might I be more than one?

My history, my ruination?

My promised land, my pyre?

Might I be several?

Each interrogating the other?

Who are you and where from?

In this be madness

Then let madness edify

Let madness be my guide

Adonis

Ali Ahmad Said Asbar (Arabic: علي أحمد
سعيد إسبر‎; transliterated: alî ahmadi sa’îdi asbar or Ali Ahmad Sa’id) born January
1930, also known by the pseudonym Adonis or Adunis (Arabic: أدونيس), is a Syrian poet and essayist who has made his career largely in Lebanon and France. He has written more than twenty books in his native Arabic.

Adonis is a pioneer of modern Arabic poetry. He is often seen as a rebel, an iconoclast who follows his own rules. “Arabic poetry is not the monolith this dominant critical view suggests, but is pluralistic, sometimes to the point of self-contradiction.”

Adonis was considered to be a candidate for the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature, but the awards went to British playwright Harold Pinter, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, British novelist Doris Lessing and French novelist J.M.G. Le Clezio.

In 2007 he was awarded the Bjørnson Prize.

Dizziness

Dizziness

Let the rock fertilise to protect us from the fever of dizziness

Fix the moment into eternity

Freeze the wave that hurts us

Into the ogre’s belly

If you truly are

the god of all seasons.

A voice then will whisper:

“What use is it to throw a purple veil

over this cursed vision?”

My soul cried with pain

as cold and dead I walked

across the markets of the city

while crowds were consumed by a ring of fire.

How could I protect them from fire, from dizziness?

Dig more deeply, gravedigger

dig the grave, dig!

Khalil Hawi

(1919 – 1982)

One of Lebanon’s best-known twentieth-century poets. Born in Huwaya (Syria), Khalil Hawi grew up in Shwayr (Lebanon). He studied philosophy and Arabic at the American University of Beirut, and he obtained a scholarship to enrol at Cambridge University, in England, where he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1959. He then became a professor of Arabic literature at the American University in Beirut. Within a few years, he established himself as one of the leading avant-garde poets in the Arab world. His poetry relies heavily on symbols and metaphors and images, and it frequently has political and social overtones. An Arab nationalist at heart, he repeatedly expressed his sense of shame and rage at the loss of Palestine in 1948 and at subsequent Arab defeats at the hands of Israel. He lamented what he saw as the Arab world’s political and cultural decay, and he expressed deep pessimism about the possibility of a true Arab cultural and political revival. After 1975, Khalil Hawi experienced the desperation felt by all Lebanese who had to watch their country’s slow descent into chaos, internal disintegration, and manipulation by outside powers. He was outraged by Lebanon’s inability to stand up to the Israeli army when the latter invaded on 3 June 1982, and he deeply resented the other Arab governments’ silence about the Israeli invasion. He committed suicide on 6 June 1982.

Struggle and Friendship

Struggle and Friendship

 

Enkidu thrust himself at Gilgamesh and they fought in the square.

He came up to Gilgamesh and they met.

Enkidu put out his foot to block the door to prevent him from entering.

They grappled each other, holding each other like bulls.

They broke the door posts and the wall.

They sported like bulls locked together.

They shattered the door posts and the walls shook.

Gilgamesh bent his knee with his foot planted on the ground, and with a turn, Enkidu was thrown.

Then immediately his fury died.

When Enkidu was thrown, he said to Gilgamesh:

“Yes, there is not another like you in the world, Ninsun who is as strong as a wild ox in the byre, was the mother who bore you.

And now you are raised above all men and Enlil has given you the kingship, for your strength surpasses the strength of men!”

They embraced each other and their friendship was sealed.

The eyes of Enkidu were full of tears.

He left sad at heart, weary, and he tortured himself.

His sorrow paralysed the muscles of his throat,

his arms hung down still and his strength had turned into weakness!

Epic of Gilgamesh

(2500 B.C.)

Between yesterday and tomorrow

Between yesterday and tomorrow

Keep yourself from worries and sorrows

Seize with all your might

This fleeting life

Yesterday is already far

Tomorrow not yet arrived

Be happy for a moment

This moment is your life

Fill the bountiful cup

Life is disgrace

Drunkenness is grace.

Omar Khayyam

(May 18, 1048 – December 4, 1122)

Omar Khayyám (Persian: عمر خیام, Early New Persian. pronunciation /ˈoːmɒːɾ xæjˈjɒːm/, English pronunciation /ˈoʊmɑr kaɪˈjɑm/) was a Persian
mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, and music.

Born in Nishapur, at a young age he moved to Samarkand and obtained his education there, afterwards he moved to Bukhara and became established as one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra, which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle.[4] He contributed to a calendar reform.

His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, have not received the same attention as his scientific and poetic writings. Zamakhshari referred to him as “the philosopher of the world”. Many sources have testified that he taught for decades the philosophy of Ibn Sina in Nishapur where Khayyám was born and buried and where his mausoleum today remains a masterpiece of Iranian architecture visited by many people every year.

Outside Iran and Persian speaking countries, Khayyám has had an impact on literature and societies through the translation of his works and popularization by other scholars. The greatest such impact was in English-speaking countries; the English scholar Thomas Hyde (1636–1703) was the first non-Persian to study him. The most influential of all was Edward FitzGerald (1809–83), who made Khayyám the most famous poet of the East in the West through his celebrated translation and adaptations of Khayyám’s rather small number of quatrains (rubaiyaas) in Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

Divine love

Divine love

 

 

I have two loves for you

That of passion and that of your merits

For the passion

I need bring to mind only you

But for the love of your merits

The universe goes unseen

While you are not before me

It is not to myself

That I must give thanks

But to you in this manifold love

Rabiah Al-Adawiyyah

(717–801)

 

Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (Arabic: رابعة العدوية القيسية‎) or simply Rābiʻa al-Basrī (Arabic: رابعة البصري‎) (717–801 C.E.) was a female Muslim Sufi saint.

She was born between 95 and 99 Hijri in Basra, Iraq.

She was the fourth daughter of her family and therefore named Rabia, meaning “fourth”. Although not born into slavery, her family were poor yet respected in the community.

According to Farid al-Din Attar, Rabia’s parents were so poor that there was no oil in house to light a lamp, nor a cloth even to wrap her with. Her mother asked her husband to borrow some oil from a neighbor, but he had resolved in his life never to ask for anything from anyone except the Creator. He pretended to go to the neighbor’s door and returned home empty-handed.

In the night, Prophet Muhammad appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Your newly born daughter is a favorite of the Lord, and shall lead many Muslims to the right path. You should approach the Amir of Basra and present him with a letter in which should be written this message: ‘You offer Durood to the Holy Prophet one hundred times every night and four hundred times every Thursday night. However, since you failed to observe the rule last Thursday, as a penalty you must pay the bearer four hundred dinars ‘.

Rabia’s father got up and went straight to the Amir with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. The Amir was delighted on receiving the message, knowing that he was in the eyes of Prophet. He distributed 1000 dinars to the poor and joyously paid 400 dinars to Rabia’s father. The Amir then asked Rabia’s father to come to him whenever he required anything, as the Amir would benefit very much by the visit of such a soul dear to the Lord.

After the death of her father, a famine overtook Basra and Rabia parted from her sisters. Legend has it that she was accompanying a caravan, which fell into the hands of robbers. The chief of the robbers took Rabia captive, and sold her in the market as a slave. The new master of Rabia used to take hard service from her.

She would pass the whole night in prayer, after she had finished her household jobs. She spent many of her days observing fast.

Once the master of the house got up in the middle of the night, and was attracted by the voice in which Rabia was praying to her Lord. She was entreating in these terms:

“Lord! You know well that my keen desire is to carry out Your commandments and to serve Thee with all my heart, O light of my eyes. If I were free I would pass the whole day and night in prayers. But what should I do when you have made me a slave of a human being?”

At once the master felt that it was sacrilegious to keep such a saint in his service. He decided to serve her instead. In the morning he called her and told her his decision; he would serve her and she should dwell there as the mistress of the house. If she insisted on leaving the house he was willing to free her from bondage.

She told him that she was willing to leave the house to carry on her worship in solitude. This the master granted and she left the house.

Rabia went into the desert to pray and became an ascetic. Her murshid was Hazrat Hassan Basri.

Throughout her life, her Love of God, poverty and self-denial did not waver. They were her constant companions. She did not possess much other than a broken jug, a rush mat and a brick, which she used as a pillow. She spent all night in prayer and contemplation, chiding herself if she slept because it took her away from her active Love of God.

As her fame grew she had many disciples. She also had discussions with many of the renowned religious people of her time. Though she had many offers of marriage, and (tradition has it) one even from the Amir of Basra, she refused them as she had no time in her life for anything other than God.

More interesting than her absolute asceticism, however, is the actual concept of Divine Love that Rabia introduced. She was the first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God’s own sake, not out of fear—as earlier Sufis had done.

She taught that repentance was a gift from God because no one could repent unless God had already accepted him and given him this gift of repentance. She taught that sinners must fear the punishment they deserved for their sins, but she also offered such sinners far more hope of Paradise than most other ascetics did. For herself, she held to a higher ideal, worshipping God neither from fear of Hell nor from hope of Paradise, for she saw such self-interest as unworthy of God’s servants; emotions like fear and hope were like veils—i.e. hindrances to the vision of God Himself.

Rabia was in her early to mid-eighties when she died, having followed the mystic Way to the end. She believed she was continually united with her Beloved. As she told her Sufi friends, “My Beloved is always with me” She died in Jerusalem in 185 AH.

She was the one who first set forth the doctrine of Divine Love and who is widely considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets. The definitive work on her life and writing was a small treatise (written as a Master’s Thesis) over 50 years ago by Margaret Smith .

Much of the poetry that is attributed to her is of unknown origin. After a life of hardship, she spontaneously achieved a state of self-realization. When asked by Sheikh Hasan al-Basri how she discovered the secret, she responded by stating:

“You know of the how, but I know of the how-less.”

She remained celibate and died of old age, an ascetic, her only care from the disciples who followed her. She was the first in a long line of female Sufi mystics.