“Moon Poems and Tanka” from “White Cranes Of Heaven”

Hiroshige, 17th century

These short poems come from the “Moon and Tanka”, poems from the just finished “White Cranes of Heaven”, NOW PUBLISHED BY LULU.COM

They were originally from “Lady Nyo’s Tanka and Other Verse”.  Lady Nyo is a 17th century character I developed for a novel, “The Kimono”, a work in progress.

Lady Nyo (21st century one)

Clouds sweep the moon,

Causing its light to dapple you.

My love! You waver before me

Like a ghost under water.

Did you see the moon tonight?

It rose like a blood orange

and scented the heavens

even from where I stood!

As dawn breaks, the moon

glides smoothly through dark clouds.

I hug my shoulders,

apprehensive at the new day,

comforted by the old moon.

Last night
I tied my kimono tightly,
bound it with a red silk rope
like an impassioned lover’s hands
around a wasp waist,
and kneeling upon a cushion,
awaited the rising of the moon.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

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16 Responses to ““Moon Poems and Tanka” from “White Cranes Of Heaven””

  1. signed .............bkm Says:

    Oh I especially love the last stanza or piece here….tied tight like a lovers hands….beautiful….bkm


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, BKM…

    I almost forgot about that version….

    I wanted to use the ‘spirit’ of that poem on my bookmarks and cards, and I wanted it
    in tanka form.

    “The morning wren sings.
    I stand in the moonlit dawn
    kimono wrapped tight.
    Last night my final peace made,
    now free from all attachments.”

    I know that tanka is usually written without punctuation, but for this purpose, there are a lot of commas, etc.


    Actually, BKM….those two poems are different…..lol~ I had to go back and read and see just how different they are.

    Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. Deeply appreciated.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Chris G. Says:

    “Like an impassioned lover’s hands…” Now there’s a delightful image. Sings. Fine set of tanka, though I will confess the blood orange piece didn’t do it quite as much for me as the others. Enjoyed the third and fourth particularly – both gave me that feeling as though I could but close my eyes and sink into them, a wonderfully smooth set of images and descriptions that truly satisfied.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Chris.

    Actually, only one would stand as a tanka….I ‘misspoke’ myself when I called them tanka.

    Thank you for reading and your insightful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  5. dustus Says:

    I’m itching to try Tanka, and more Haiku. Your posts have inspired me to give it a go.

    Think what I like most about them is when the stanzas seem both universal and personal at the same time. Dappled light on another, hugging one’s shoulders, tight tie of the kimono—all connected to person amid the moon imagery. Thank you for also providing the OSP workshops! I won’t attempt a Tanka until I go back and read your guest posts. Cheers


  6. hedgewitch Says:

    Very vivid captures all of both nature and feeling at a heightened level, what one might smell if blindfolded. I enjoyed every one of them.


  7. brian miller Says:

    nice…i too love the lovers hands tied…the moon itself is so entrancing and pulls at the tides of our heart…i think i could find inspiration in it nightly…


  8. hollyheir Says:

    I love all your work and deeply appreciate all you did instructing us on the use of these forms especially Tanka. I was oblivious to it and feel you have given me such good guidance. I know the onestop tanka wasn’t quite right as there was no turn and probably should have been well more natural but the count and thought worked for the prompt. I think my other one was more successful and I thank you for your comments.

    I liked all of these images very much. You build such a world with your forms. Smells, textiles and textures always surround me as I seem to look out from a kind of shrine upon nature highly stylized and beautifully framed. Always excellent. Thank you. Gay


  9. poemblaze Says:

    I love how these feel traditional but aren’t stale at all. They are beautiful.


  10. marousia Says:

    Beautiful images as always – I love the way you look at things – I especially enjoyed the first 🙂


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Adam!
    Just jump in!! Tanka especially is a wonderful vehicle for personal observations. I was talking with my husband about this just last night: the combining nature observation and then imprinting it with personal ‘feelings’…something like that.

    Tanka is so broad …it carries so well into different spheres.

    But I think it is …essentially…the most personal of all poetry. Because of the limit on words, syllables, you have to really concentrate thoughts and observations down to the essence. I think this excellent practice for us verbose poets!

    Lady Nyo


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Marousia!

    I like the first one too….and I like the “Blood Orange” one too, and it seems no one else does! LOL~

    I am getting more proficient in Japanese, and starting to write these very short poems in the language. It’s a very different way of seeing things and works with poetry in surprising ways. Hopefully soon I will be able to do some here in Japanese on my blog. That should make the hounds howl!

    Thank you, Marousia for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Poemblaze~

    That is the wonder and beauty of tanka and very short poems. They can pack a lot in a little form.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gay!
    What a wonderful comment! I see my poetry so much better, more critically, through the eyes of other poets…thank you so much!

    For 4 years I wrote tanka that wasn’t! LOL!..it was just freeverse, something I deeply love, but here’s the rub: I refused to attend to the ‘rules’ of tanka, even refusing to read them in any depth. Only when I started to realize that tanka isn’t freeverse…as much as we think it is….did I start to see the beauty of this little form.

    I think tanka packs a punch in many ways. It gives structure, like a good corset! It also frees the mind in ways that are very Japanese.

    What little I did on OneShot was just a beginning…it wasn’t a deep study, but just was to get people acquainted with tanka and to not be afraid of the so called rules. I was, and I missed writing tanka for so long.

    Now? Well, for a year or so I walked around counting on my fingers….like a madwoman….but now it’s second nature once I get that first line. Tanka seems to be so innate in the forming once you get the rhythm down…and there definitely is rhythm to it all.

    Thank you, Gay, for reading and your lovely comment. I would love if people started to write more tanka on Oneshot and we could compile it and put a Oneshot book out!

    Lady Nyo


  15. ladynyo Says:

    You know what, Brian?

    That moon up there figures deeply in Japanese psyche. Saigyo, that priest/poet…wrote a lot of moon poetry…tanka, that William LaFleur compiled in “Mirror of the Moon” in the 70’s. That is an excellent primer for all of us who are deeply affected by the moon.

    Thank you for reading and your comment. Keep gazing upwards….beautiful poetry comes out of that!

    Lady Nyo


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Hedgewitch!

    Well, thank you. Tanka is such a special form that I think it forces you into a different ‘poetic stance”….I feel free-er in tanka than anything else now…but I think it’s definitely a mind set.

    It’s a particular discipline that becomes almost second nature. I think it forces you to open in some ways poetically. I certainly don’t know what happens in general, but I seem to write in a different ‘voice’ in tanka.

    Thank you for reading and your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


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