Sunday, November 6, 2016

Carpe Diem Tanka Splendor #7 Teika's third Tanka Writing Technique "Elegant beauty"

Dear Haijin, visitor and travelers,

This month we are exploring the beauty of Tanka, that wonderful 5-lined poem, through the "Ten Tanka Writing Techniques" by Teika. Today I love to share his third Tanka Writing Technique, Elegant Beauty.

Elegant beauty, characterised by harmony, balance, and beauty of cadence
Examples of this style are the poem by Toshyori on Mano Cove, which we saw in our first episode of this month,  and this one from the great poet of the late 7th century - Kakinomoto no Hitomaro from the Kokinshū, #9:409:

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
honobono to / akashi no ura no / asagiri ni / shimagakureyuku / fune o shi zo omou

dimly dimly
on the shores of Akashi Bay
morning mist
vanishing by distant islands
longing follows the ship
© Hitomaro
In this tanka you can see the elegant beauty in the smoothness of the scene and the fragile morning mist. And that elegant beauty we can also see / find in the following Japanese Woodblock Print by Hasui Kawase (1883-1957).
Akashi Bay (Japan)
As I prepared this episode of our Tanka Splendor month I thought immediately on a tanka which I wrote a while ago. I think in that tanka this elegant beauty is very well described / used:
Lilies of the valley
their sweet perfume makes me drowsy
hot summer night
between silken sheets her warmth
honeysuckle coolness

© Chèvrefeuille
As I told you in our first Tanka Splendor episode I have chosen a prompt also for every episode about one of Teika's Tanka Writing Techniques ... for today that prompt is "departing geese", but you don't need to use it, you can also choose to use "departing" or "departure" as the theme for your tanka.
Try to create a tanka on "departing" for example and use the Tanka Writing Technique of this episode. As you all know I am not a great Tanka poet, but I love to explore this poetry form further and maybe improve my tanka writing skills.
Willow in autumn
I couldn't come up with a new tanka (yet), so I ran through my archives and found the following tanka in which I think that I caught elegant beauty.
autumn departs
in deep silence willow leaves fall -
tears on this grave
as the willow is green again
another year has gone
© Chèvrefeuille
After a while I thought ... "I cannot conclude this episode without creating a new Tanka". So I have given it a try ...
deep dark forest
seeking for nature’s mysteries –
a new day rises
after a hot and steamy night
she departs … without a kiss
© Chèvrefeuille
Is this elegant beauty? I don't really know, but I think it is. Maybe it's the scene which makes the elegant beauty. I think this one is in balance, but is there also beauty in cadence?

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 11th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, dragonfly, later on.


  1. Very nice topic. I think both of your haiku are fine. The difference in Hitomaro's tanka is that we have the 'gliding movement' of the ship. His tanka is really starting to grow on me, and the last line is magnificent in its emotion.

    In your second tanka you used emotion to very strong effect also. In effect your tanks added a little extra to the genre, of sympathy, mystery and more, a 'sting' in the 'tail' of the last line. I liked that very much.

  2. Thanks for introducing us to Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, whose tanka is not only filled with elegant beauty but seems to unfold like a cinematic scene.