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Tanka by Sadakichi Hartmann | Poets.org

Tanka

by Sadakichi Hartmann

 

I.
Winter? Spring? Who knows?
White buds from the plumtrees wing
And mingle with the snows.
No blue skies these flowers bring,
Yet their fragrance augurs Spring.
II.
Oh, were the white waves,
Far on the glimmering sea
That the moonshine laves,
Dream flowers drifting to me,--
I would cull them, love, for thee.
III.
Moon, somnolent, white,
Mirrored in a waveless sea,
What fickle mood of night
Urged thee from heaven to flee
And live in the dawnlit sea?
IV.
Like mist on the leas,
Fall gently, oh rain of Spring
On the orange trees
That to Ume's casement cling--
Perchance, she'll hear the love-bird sing.
V.
Though love has grown cold
The woods are bright with flowers,
Why not as of old
Go to the wildwood bowers
And dream of--bygone hours!
VI.
Tell, what name beseems
These vain and wandering days!
Like the bark of dreams
That from souls at daybreak strays
They are lost on trackless ways.

 

Today's poem is in the public domain.

About This Poem

"Tanka" was first published in Hartmann's collection of poetryDrifting Flowers of the Sea and Other Poems (1904). A note published with this poem states, "The Tanka (short poem) is the most popular and characteristic of the various forms of Japanese poetry. It consists of five lines of 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables--31 syllables in all. The addition of the rhyme is original with the author."

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