Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.



an ancient genre of Japanese poetry. The tanka is a graceful unrhymed five-line poem consisting of 31 syllables, divided into lines of 5–7–5–7–7 syllables.

The tanka were generally nature or love lyrics, courtly panegyrics, or poems about the parting of lovers or the transient nature of life. Most of the poems in the Manyoshu anthology (second half of the eighth century) were tanka. Later, until the 15th century, the tanka was virtually the only poetic genre cultivated among the aristocracy. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the tanka was superseded by new genres, the renga and haiku.

Beginning in the 18th century, interest in the classical literature of the ninth to 11th centuries resulted in attempts to revive the tanka. Poets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Hiroshi Yosano, Akiko Yosano, Shiki Masaoka, and Takashi Nagatsuka, renewed the content of the tanka with new imagery and with colloquial speech. Later, Takuboku Ishikawa and other democratic poets imbued the tanka with socially oriented themes.


In Russian translation:

Iz iaponskoi poezii. Moscow, 1964.

laponskie piatistishiia. Moscow, 1971.

Man”esiu, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1971–72.


Konrad, N. I. Iaponskaia literatura. Moscow, 1974.
Istoriia sovremennoi iaponskoi literatury. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Japanese.)
Literatura Vostoka v srednie veka, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.


References in periodicals archive ?
The tanka experienced a similar transformation, especially through the creative initiative of Ochiai Naobumi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1861-1903).
What we hollow bones really become is the pipeline that connects Wakan Tanka and our community together.
Later this evening in Beijing, Prime Minister Nepal will attend a reception hosted in his honour by Nepali Ambassador to China, Tanka Prasad Karki.
Because I felt most drawn to it, I bought a tanka of White Tara, a goddess of compassion and long life.
The novel tells these two stories: the story of Bottle Seal 55, a hunted escapee from the Hydro factory, and her desire to return home to Cherry Heaven; and the story of Kat and Tanka, a story of privilege as they become friends with Aran, whose father owns the Hydro factory and who is keeping a secret of his own.
Steve Webb, author and illustrator of Tanka Tanka Skunk (Red Fox, pounds 5.
We want future Rolph Harrises and Quentin Blakes to send us their pictures for the chance to win signed books by Steve Webb, author and illustrator of Tanka Tanka Skunk, and other goodies from the Laing.
Deloria notes that after Christian influence, of the many words in the Sioux language that expressed a wide variety of experiences with this power, the Sioux were forced to choose "Wakan Tanka," thus trying to force their original conception of this "mysterious energy" into a god of the Old Testament.
She began composing Japanese classical tanka poetry -- following a strict five-line, 31-syllable style -- to express her anger about the war and uneasiness about her disease, likely caused by radiation.
A great majority of Sanchez's latest collection of poems are entitled haiku, tanka, or sonku.
The new book does add some poems by a few previously included gendaishi poets and by two haiku poets and one tanka poet.
Extend haiku responses by further exploring tanka and renga.