“Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi”

Japanese Lovers II

“Call and Answer” is one of the earliest in Japanese poetry.  Continuing the theme, a conversation, a communication with different inferences.  I decided to try my hand at this, and it was instructive and mostly….fun.

Hers appear first, mine (as answering) appear in italics.

 Lady Nyo

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.


How long will it last?

I know not his hidden heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my hair.

My blushes turn my face dark.”


When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

No moon tonight

Only a cold wind visits

Murasaki robe

Stained the color of grass

Invisible on this earth.


(Murasaki is a grass, lavender/purple, and also a name, etc.)


At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds and come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

And let my belly

Warm your dreams.


One of her most famous poems:


No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.


When my needing you

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

 The wind your hands, caressing



Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.’


Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

      Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

     The fat mountain deer listen-

   Add their bellowing sorrow.


The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.


Tonight, foxes scream

Cued by a howling wind.

Maple leaves quilting

A lonely time of season

No one to share the moonlight.




A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?


So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.



Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.


Dreams, reality

How can one  know?

I stumble through dreams

I stagger through  days

Where reality and dreams are one.


All Komachi poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Poems in Italics were mine.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017



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3 Responses to ““Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi””

  1. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Breathtaking and brilliant!


  2. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #7: Lady Nyo’s “Call and Answer!”


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank. And it was Fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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