My initial reaction to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 229 #SynonymsOnly, where the words offered are dawn and twilight (to be replaced with synonyms), was to write a haiku.
Instead, I decided to write a chōka.
light of setting sun
brings a night of quiet rest
morning light arrives
waves ripple in reflection
as the cycle continues
Chōka, a Japanese long poem written primarily from the 6th to the 14th century. Chōka have alternating lines of 5 and 7 syllables and an indefinite length (from 7 to 149 lines), ending with an added 7 syllable line. So, 5-7-5-7-5-7-…7, and a length allowing greater themes.
Chōka often were followed by one or more short poems called hanka, or “envoys,” summarizing, supplementing, or elaborating on, the contents of the main poem. Sometimes, a tanka would serve as an envoy, and that is what I have written here.
Man’yōshū (“Collection of a Myriad Leaves”) is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry (from some time after AD 759) and contains 4,536 waka (classical Japanese poetry). 265 of those are chōka (long poems). The 1940/1965 edition of The Man’yōshū: One Thousand Poems (a translation) is available for download as a PDF from Internet Archive and is some pretty interesting reading.
Image: sunset on the Niagara River at Lake Ontario, Youngstown, New York
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