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How to Write a Tanka

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Hints for Tanka Style Poetry Story Challenge , I'd like to introduce a model from Yosano Akiko’s work, “Disheveled Hair” her first published collection of tanka (1901).

I added some words to the original translation (by Roger Pulvers) following the rules, 5/7/5/7/7 syllables (see examples of tanka  you don't need to worry about the numbers of syllables exactly.)


その子二十 櫛にながるる 黒髪の おごりの春の うつくしきかな


その子(the girl) 二十 (twenty years old)  櫛 (comb)  に (through) 

ながるる (flowing)   黒髪 (black hair)    おごり(be proud of   うつくしきかな(How beautiful!


In this tanka, it has one seasonal word, “spring” which implies young beauty.



Her Hair at twenty

Flowing long and shining black

While combing it through

Shows proudly youth and beauty

Celebrating awesome spring! 






Here's one more from Yosano Akiko (translation by Roger Pulvers)



わかき子が 髪のしづくの 草に凝りて 蝶とうまれし ここ春の國


Droplets fall from a young girl’s hair

Congealing on grass

Giving birth to a butterfly

In the country

Of spring



Though you don't have to put the seasonal word in tanka if you don't feel it right,

I'd like to encourage you to try one, which will enrich your poem or story.



Edited by StarFeather
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