Tanka Poems

Tanka Poetry

Japanese Culture Tanka Poems, Tanka Poetry

Tanka Poems ( たん)

(poems in 31 syllables)

Tanka poems are short, lyrical poetry structured in 31 syllables arranged in groups of 5, 7, 5, 7 and 7, syllables, in a two-part form with the first part in 5, 7, 5, and the second part in 7 and 7. Even in the "Man'yoshu,"(the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) which is the Japan's oldest anthology of poetry, compiled in the eighth century, many of the poems were already composed in this form.

It is written in the preface of "Kokinwakashu,"(the Collection of Japanese Poems from Ancient and Modern Times) that "the Japanese poetry grows out of people's feelings to become leaves of words for everything in the world." Its main feature is that, in expressing the gamut of feelings in a simple form, it must contain--and this is an indispensable feature--a suggestiveness felt beyond the words.

Perhaps a requirement for an outstanding tanka poems is that it causes associations with a suggestiveness not expressed in words and a deep elegance. Today there are many lovers of this art form, tanka poetry.

Tanka Poems Example:

Saying Goodbye

Carefully I walk
Trying so hard to be brave
They all see my fear
Dark glasses cover their eyes
As mine flow over with tears



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