In his preface to the Kokinshu [the abbreviated term for the Imperial anthology Kokin Wakashu - conceived of by Emperor Uda (r.887–897) it was published by order of his son, Emperor Daigo (r.897–930) , in about 905. Its finished form dates to c.920], Ki no Tsurayuki listed the ''Six Best Waka Poets'' in history: Kisen Hoshi, Ono no Komachi, Sojo Henjo, Ariwara no Narihira, Fun'ya no Yasuhide and Otomo no Kuronushi.
Strangely, he then ridicules them in the same preface* (maybe for Japanese modesty?) .
* Ki no Tsurayuki (872–945) , in the preface, had a unique critique for each of the 6 poets:
- Kisen Hoshi (death 909?) : The priest of Mt. Uji, Kisen, is obscure, and his beginnings and endings do not chime; he is like an autumnal moon, bright in the evening, dim at dawn.
- Ono no Komachi (c.825—c.900) : As to Ono no Komachi, she has pathos but lacks power, like a fair but feeble woman.
- Sojo Henjo or Archbishop Henjo (816–890; born Yoshi-mine Munesada) : Sojo Henjo, whose manner is successful, but his work is deficient in truth, like the picture of a beautiful woman that excites emotion, but to no avail.
- Ariwara no Narihira (825–880) : Arihara Narihira, very full of feeling but poor in diction; his poetry reminds one of a faded flower that yet preserves some of its perfume.
- Fun'ya no Yasuhide (death 885?) : Funya no Yasuhide, on the other hand, is an artist in words; with him form is better than substance. He is like a peddler dressed up in fine silks.
- Otomo no Kuronushi (born between 824-835, died 923?) : Otomo no Kuronushi, lastly, has a pretty turn for verse, but his form is poor; he is like a faggot-bearing boor resting under a blossom-filled cherry-tree.
Ono no Komachi, aside from Murasaki Shikibu (*) , was the most famous poetess, in Japanese history.
(*) : Murasaki Shikibu, who lived c.100 years later (978? -1015?) , was the author of ''The Tale of Genji'' (''the Shining Prince'') , the first great novel in world literature.
- ???? -
I never cease
To follow you in my dreams,
In my fantasies...
Yet, we haven’t met
Not even acquainted.
- Ono no Komachi -
Ono no Komachi wrote emotionally charged poems while also using complex poetic language - she also used a lot of kakekotoba (pivot word) which make her poetry difficult to translate..
Ono no Komachi was among the 36 Poetry Immortals, and also described as a real beauty.. beautiful woman with a beautiful poetry-mind.. a 'Musa', we'd say.. :)
Many of the 1111 poems in the Kokinshu were anonymous, but, among those where the authors were identified, eighteen were attributed to Ono no Komachi. This is all of her work that we know for sure, a handful of poems that have been remembered for eleven centuries..
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12/4/2021 8:14:57 PM # 188.8.131.523