Posts Tagged ‘rules’

More “Perhaps” Tanka

June 7, 2009

The more I study tanka the more I realize how ‘off’ my tanka can be. There are very strict rules to Japanese poetry, and tanka doesn’t escape them. For right now, I am sticking to the classical 5/7/5/7/7 form…though the translation of Japanese and English syllabic form isn’t the same.

Tanka often deals with interesting personal feelings, subjective emotions.  Most early tanka contrasts the writers emotions to a seasonal phenomenon.  Use of metaphor, symbols or other figurative devices are allowed. ( am getting confused with haiku)   In fact, the Japanese word for metaphor means ‘pillow word’, signifying the unspoken behind what is written.

Though tanka goes back to the 7th century in it’s earliest forms, tanka was a fiercely competative art form.  Tanka contests were popular in courts and in private life.  In courts they competed for prizes and acclaim.  Tanka was also the communication form of lovers, who would properly write in a more metaphorical language.

In the 17th century, haiku, a shorter and more severe form, tried to ‘reform’ tanka,  and for a while it straightened up, but tanka is such a universal form of expression in Japan, that by the 19th century it was ‘wild’ again.

But a deeper understanding and appreciation require a reading of Japanese culture, history, mythology, religion and literature.  That’s a lifetime of study, but one that impacts on more than our tanka.

Lady Nyo

TANKA, Perhaps…..

Like the lithe bowing
Of a red maple sapling
My heart turns to you,
Yearns for those nights long ago
When pale skin challenged the moon.

Come into my arms.
Bury under the warm quilt.
Your scent makes me drunk
Like the wine we gulped last night.
Too much lust and drink to think.

So much bitterness
Between two who lusted deeply.
What happened to love?
One word could change night to day.
One word could unbind my soul!

I walked a landscape
Unfamiliar to my mind.
The only sound  heard
Was the tinkling of bells
Then silence covered like snow.

I look up at blue
Sky this morning, watch leaves fall-
Whirling, colored tears.
Clip my face like dull razors,
The strokings of memory.

Is the whistling
Of the wind- a train, a plane?
Nature plays fiddle
And our senses are confused,
We dwell in chicanery!

Overhead, the cranes,
Sandhills, swirl in broad  circles.
Broken GPS?
No matter, their cries fall down
Celestial chiding rain.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008, 2009

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