Tanka

nightingale paintingTanka is a form of poetry from Japan, using only 5 lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables respectively. Tanka usually express emotions about a lover or a type of longing. They can use metaphors, unlike haiku. Tanka in English do not follow the same syllable count as in Japanese, as the two languages are two far apart in terms of syllables. In English, tanka are written as 5 lines as well, but in this format:

short line
long line
short line
long line
long line

Here is a translated example of a tanka of Ono no Komachi, a ninth-century Japanese female poet:

awake tonight
with loneliness
I cannot keep myself
from longing
for the handsome moon

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