POETRY: Tanka Series, Week 1

A year and a half ago, I read The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. 

In the introduction to this series of poems, it explains, the tanka is one of the oldest Japanese forms. 7th century old. Tankas were five line poems used in the royal courts and most prominently–for courtship.

Get this custom: quite often back then, a man and a woman’s first date was to spend the night together and then if he liked her, or she liked him, one of them would jot off a tanka to send to the other. Kind of a bait. A day-after text.

Are we sure this was the 7th century and not the 21st century?

And in the case of Ono and Izumi, some of these poems never got delivered or, if they did, never got responded to. And then she’d sit and wait. She’d yearn. She’d write even more.

I thought, This sounds like me. I sound like a tanka-writer. 

So I wrote a tanka.


“My heart is a beehive:
silent, steadfast, combed
over for sweetness. Yet
always, always,
buzzing beneath the surface.”

Addison Taylor, © 2013

I wrote 8 tankas, since 8 is somehow my magic number of life. Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be sharing one every Friday. We all could use a little 7th century in our weekends.



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