These are my modern English translations of poems by Ono no Komachi.
Watching wan moonlight flooding tree limbs,
my heart also brims,
overflowing with autumn.
—Ono no Komachi (circa 825-900), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Golden silence reigned supreme
in my nightmare and her dream.
Keywords/Tags: silence, gold, golden, golden silence, dream, dreams, nightmare, nightmares
Two Songs From a Play
I saw a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side.
And lay the heart upon her hand
And bear that beating heart away;
Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
As though God's death were but a play.
Another Troy must rise and set,
Another lineage feed the crow,
Another Argo's painted prow
Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
The Roman Empire stood appalled:
It dropped the reins of peace and war
When that fierce virgin and her Star
'God' is composed of letters three,
But if you put an 'l'
Before the last it seems to me
A synonym for Hell.
For all of envy, greed and hate
The human heart can hold
Respond unto the devil's bait
When God created Gold to be
For our adorning fit,
I little think he dreamed that we
Would come to worship it.
But when you ruefully have scanned
The chronicles of Time,
You'll find that lucre lends a hand
Translation From the Gull Language
'Twas grav'd on the Stone of Destiny,
In letters four, and letters three;
And ne'er did the King of the Gulls go by
But those awful letters scar'd his eye;
For he knew that a Prophet Voice had said
"As long as those words by man were read,
The ancient race of the Gulls should ne'er
One hour of peace or plenty share."
But years and years successive flew
And the letters still more legible grew, --
At top, a T, an H, an E,
And underneath, D. E. B. T.
Some thought them Hebrew, -- such as Jews,
Oh, why should a hen
have been run over
on West 4th Street
in the middle of summer?
She was a white hen
--red-and-white now, of course.
How did she get there?
Where was she going?
Her wing feathers spread
flat, flat in the tar,
all dirtied, and thin
as tissue paper.
A pigeon, yes,
or an English sparrow,
might meet such a fate,
but not that poor fowl.
Just now I went back
to look again.
I hadn't dreamed it:
there is a hen
Translated from Geibel
O say, thou wild, thou oft deceived heart,
What mean these noisy throbbings in my breast?
After thy long, unutterable woe
Wouldst thou not rest?
Fall'n from Life's tree the sweet rose-blossom lies,
And fragrant youth has fled. What made to seem
This earth as fair to thee as Paradise,
Was all a dream.
The blossom fell, the thorn was left to me;
Deep from the wound the blood-drops ever flow,
All that I have are yearnings, wild desires,
And wrath and woe.
Tz'u No. 12
To the tune of "Happy Event Is Nigh"
The wind ceases; fallen flowers pile high.
Outside my screen, petals collect in heaps of red
This reminds me that after the blooming
of the cherry-apple tree
It is time to lament the dying spring.
Singing and drinking have come to an end;
jade cups are empty;
Lamps are flickering.
Hardly able to bear the sorrows and regrets
of my dreams,
I hear the mournful cry of the cuckoo.
Tz'u No. 11
To the tune of "Lamentation"
It was far into the night when, intoxicated,
I took off my ornaments;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Recovered from tipsiness,
the lingering smell of wine
broke my fond dream
before my dreaming soul could find
my way home.
All is quiet.
The moon lingers,
And the emerald screen hangs low.
I caress the withered flower,
Fondle the fragrant petals,
Trying to bring back the lost time.
Two Wishes XI
In the silence of the night Death descended from God toward the earth. He hovered above a city and pierced the dwellings with his eyes. He say the spirits floating on wings of dreams, and the people who were surrendered to the Slumber.
When the moon fell below the horizon and the city became black, Death walked silently among the houses -- careful to touch nothing -- until he reached a palace. He entered through the bolted gates undisturbed, and stood by the rich man's bed; and as Death touched his forehead, the sleeper's eyes opened, showing great fright.