Tanka is an ancient form of Japanese poetry older than haiku. Alike haiku, Tanka poems evoke a moment or mark an occasion with concision and musicality. In Japanese, its strict form is a 31-syllable poem (5-7-5-7-7), but it has evolved and styles have changed to include modern language and even colloquialisms, making the conceptual contrast between eastern and western cultures a little bit dimmed. Masaoka Shiki, a Japanese poet, reformer and revisionist, created the term Tanka in the early twentieth century. Until then, poems of this nature had been referred to as Waka or simply Uta (“song, poem”). Haiku is also a term of his invention, used for his revision of the old Hokku form, with the same idea.
four plates on the dining table
he & she still waiting
their children come down for dinner.
but their suspended corpses
will move nevermore
quatro pratos postos na mesa
ele & ela ainda esperam
os filhos descerem para o jantar
mas seus corpos pendurados
vão se mexer nuncamais
when mary I died, paddy realised
mary II is becoming a maid.
when mary II died, paddy realised
i need another daughter
to vent my lusts.
quando maria I morreu, joão pensou:
maria II está ficando moça.
quando maria II morreu, joão pensou:
preciso de outra filha
para dar vazão à minha luxúria
from the cold lands of the north
a southern soul is still anchored –
speechless, hopeless, lost –
calling upon each morning: “Baku-san,
come eat my dreams, come eat my dreams!”
das terras frias do norte
uma alma sulina continua ancorada –
sem palavras, sem esperança, perdida, –
clamando a cada manhã: “Baku-san,
venha, venha comer meus sonhos!”