Verse and Rhyme

Learn How to Write a Tanka Poem

tanka poem

Older than Haiku, Tanka is another form of ancient Japanese poetry. Traditional Japanese Tanka is written in one straight line, but in English the line is divided into five syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. In the best Tanka poem, the five lines flow seamlessly into one thought. Tanka poems were traditionally written to evoke a moment or mark an occasion with concision and musicality. Even today, Tanka is used to express a real or imagined moment in an author’s time and culture. [source]

I’ve broken the rules a bit, but I’ve kept to the 5-7-5-7-7 format. Below are two pseudo-Tanka poems that I have authored:

Her ivory neck,
graceful curve on which he lays
impatient kisses –
inhibitions abandoned,
fidelity surrendered.

* * * * *

The Dramatist
Beguiled by Satan’s work
and spoiled by philosophy,
he loves tragedy –
jealousy and suspicion,
downfall and destruction.

* * * * *


3 thoughts on “Learn How to Write a Tanka Poem”

  1. ur poems were so lively ur so artistic in many wayz u like to express ur fellings and thoughts easily by writing it down on a website to show the world how u feel

  2. Arts and crafts to come soon. I have to figure out my new digital camera. Sigh.

  3. Hi Donna! I’m so glad you left a comment, because otherwise I would never have found your lovely (although terrifyingly erudite) blog 🙂 I see you are an artist as well; have you posted any of your art on this blog or elsewhere on the net?


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