Written for: dVerse Poets-Meeting The Bar: Form-Tanka (posted by Hayes-Spencer)
They have a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count, per line. The first two lines of the tanka are known as the kami-no-ku – upper poem, the last two lines are the shimo-no-ku – lower poem. The third line. middle line, is the kireji or, cutting line or pivot denoting the difference between the two parts. This is important to remember when writing tanka. There are also no uppercase letters, no punctuation (except for the short dash, like an aspirated breath) or title.
Tanka are subjective and can be emotional, opinionated, sensual, and lyrical. They move back and forth through time and use elegant phrases or euphemisms, simile and metaphor. They are considered a “female” while haiku are “male”. The word tanka means “short song”. Many times before battle, Samurai would write a death poem (jisei) to leave behind. Often these poems were tanka.
winter winds blow chill
through my heart while you are gone
fear for your safety
in terrible times of war
where flowers no longer grow