Nicole Erika - Tanka
Nicole Erika - Tanka

A tanka is a classical Japanese poetic form consisting of five lines and 31 syllables in a 5-7-5 and a 7-7 structure. The upper part (5-7-5) is called kami-no-ku (upper phrase) the lower part (7-7) is called shimo-no-ku (lower phrase).

Traditionally, the term was used to differentiate short poetry from longer one. Sometimes you’ll find “small song” as a translation.

It makes sense because a tanka was often used to give a worthy conclusion to any (festive) event. Therefore, there was a strong focus on the choice of words, paper, ink, and artwork. Also, the musicality of the chosen words played a role.

You will recognize that the first three lines are identical to the haiku/senryu structure (more here). The reason is that the upper part developed into its own poetic form we know as haiku.


A Selection Of Tanka

unexpected gifts –
empty shells by the river
the sea far away

humans pass -void of passion
longing for their pearl inside


the nights are too long
my dreams don’t make sense anymore
nothing to enjoy

they’re but fractured memories
of a life without meaning

all of your sorrows
can transform into wisdom
if you so allow

beneath the cloak of drama
she will be waiting for you

I need to give up –
the fight’s going in circles
like a hamster wheel

will I be a loser, then?
and what happens to my sword?


dive within yourself
to find the wisdom you seek
it is yours – always

meanwhile, the snake oil vendors
deceive with another trick


drama atmosphere
the air filled with arguments
no one understands

most people talk way too much
without saying anything


a kiss in the dark
maybe it was just a dream
maybe it was not

I do not dare to find out
reality may bite me


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Nicole Erika

Nicole Erika is a self-realized writer and coach who reminds you of the Ease Of Creation and the Joy of Self-Expression.

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