Tanka by Sadakichi Hartmann | Poets.org

  • Sat Mar 8th, 2014 6:08pm
  • Life


by Sadakichi Hartmann



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.


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.


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?


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.


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!


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.”