2005/05/20

Poetry Corner

"The Weather forecast
It will be cloudy today
With a bomb or two
But kids will still find sunlight
And shower town with light drops"

From "Flowers and Bombs" by Kaoru Kobashi

Note from Pandabonium: This is a tanka poem, an ancient Japanese form which has 31 syllables divided into five lines having the pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Tanka dates back to the early 8th century. This particular book of poems was written in 2004, in both Japanese and English, as plea for peace.

1 comment:

The Moody Minstrel said...

Actually, a friend of mine who was a classical Japanese teacher (and then the assistant curator of an Edo-era museum) told me that the 5-7-5-7-7 pattern isn't nearly as important as the total count of 31. The 5-7-5-7-7 structure was only one approach, which enjoyed some widespread popularity, but the tanka form is actually rather liberal...far more than haiku.

To appreciate the significance of poetry in traditional Japanese culture, one ought to read The Tale of Genji, a novel written by Murasaki Shikibu in the 10th century. Poetry readings among the largest social events in Heian-era Kyoto. People of class and education not only quoted or referred to classic poetry as part of everyday discourse but also ended virtually every letter with a poem written in either Chinese or Japanese.

Come to think of it, the hiragana phonetic alphabet was invented primarily for the purpose of making poetry readers.

Ah, culture...