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Paul Hartal


A Tanka of Eye Color


I don't remember
What eye-color mother had.
She died very young
when I was still a child. What
color are your mother's eyes?

Submitted: Monday, February 18, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This verse follows the matrix of the Tanka, a genre of Japanese poetry. The word tanka means "short song". Tanka has a pattern of five lines constructed from 31 phonetic sound units, called ‘on-s'. An on can correspond, but does not necessarily equate to a syllable. The sound units are structured in the five lines this way: 5-7-5-7-7. The modern tanka developed from the classical Japanese romantic song of the waka. Its roots date back to the Heian period,794-1185. The Japanese poet and essayist Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) developed the tanka and the haiku as modern forms of classical Japanese literature.

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