The Tanka—Spanning 13 Centuries..


A “Tanka” means a “short poem” or a “short song”. It consists of 31 syllables, which are divided into syllabic units of 5-7-5-7-7. When a tanka in Japanese is translated into English, the syllabic structure is lost. However, it is possible to compose a tanka in English using 31 syllables

One collection of ancient poems is entitled Manyoshu, which means either A Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves or A Collection for Ten Thousand Ages. It has around 4500 poems in it, and around 90 % are written in Tanka form.

There are several characteristics between the Haiku and the Tanka..

Both are Simple

Both are marked with precise expression with out wasted words

Both reflect nature

Traditionally neither dipict violence or war images

There are several contrasting comparisons as well.

The Tanka has been around for 13 Century’s

The Haiku for only 3

The Tanka has 31 Syllables or Onji and the Haiku has 17

The tanka is typically more lyrical and feminine

The Haiku is generally more masculine and fragmented

To read more about the differences between Haiku’s and Tanka’s please see the following web site

http://www.ahapoetry.com/tanka.htm

 

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