Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tanka, Tanka, Very Much!

Delwyn over at Hazy Moon wrote two lovely Tanka poems today. The comments section drew interesting conversation. She is, perhaps, more than generous to give me so much credit for inspiring her; she inspires me. Her post resonated pleasantly in my heart all day long.

This happy resonance was helpful today.

Teaching 31 often needy kindergarten kids can be really draining. I am grateful for what love and attention I am given to give, and I pour out as much loving attention as I can, but I don't always have enough.

But by lunch today I felt an acute need to take refuge in nature.

Fortunately there is a natural area just behind my school with a seasonal brook running through it. I walked back there.

I needed to lie down and simply listen to the brook, the birds. A downed tree invite me to recline. It was so comfortable. I melted into a mantra. Then listened. I thought a Tanka might appear, but  a Cinquain came instead.

A Cinquain is a 5 line poetic form inspired by Haiku and Tanka but adapted to English by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey. Cinquain poetry has achieved a following over the years. In its basic form, a Cinquain's five lines display a syllabic count of 2-4-6-8-2.


Blitzed man.
By noon, so spent.
Needs a refuge—tree lounge!
Brook's voice suggests, "Look up, Look up!"
Blissed man.


excerpt from
The Brook

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson


Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Dan: These forms of poetry that you introduce us to, flow like a river. Love the 2 word lines in your Cinquain "Blitzed out -- Blissed out"! That's what laying by a stream can do for you.

Tennyson's poem spoke to me as a woman, as a couple of times in my life I have heard myself say: 'Men may come and men may go...but I go on forever'...... :)

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

thank you for that sweet intro.. There is a lovely atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement here which is conducive to sharing and baring our souls.

I love your perky cinquain... I say 'sinkwain' but I suppose the cinq is Italian for five and pronounced 'chink' like in the cinqueterra on the Mediterranean - a gorgeous walking spot...but that is by the by...

How do you pronounce the term?

Is that the sky you really saw today? It is a great lacy filigree photo...

I have never read the A L Tennyson so have copied it for my folder of 'loved poems' which I have garnered from blogs in many cases...

I am intrigued that you have the sense to leave the madding crowd when you need a respite and take yourself out of the context for even a few minutes. I think I would be silly enough to soldier on and become frazzled.

Happy days and keep on creating...

Bagman and Butler said...

Blitze and blissed...a great moment appearing in the middle of your day.

jinksy said...

I've always loved this one, because of the sharps and trebles!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Delwyn,

You're welcome...I feel the support, too.

I looked on the Mirriam-Webster wesite. They list Pronunciation: \ˈsiŋ-ˌkān, ˈsaŋ-\ that would be, "sing-cane"

Cinquain means five-five. The first five, cinq, is from French; the second, quain, from Latin. I guess Ms. Crapsey (some last name, huh?) wanted to emphasize the fiveness of her poetry form's lines. It's a great form of poetry to play with along with haiku and Tanka and Chinese Quatrains and Renga.

Yes, that the exact sky I saw looking up as I reclined on the downed tree trunk. I had my camera with me.... don't you remember whispering in my ear to take it with me? It was you, I swear.

Glad you liked Tennyson, too. That's an excerpt only, you might want to go online after the whole poem.

As far as going to a refuge, I have *finally* learned marrow-deep that showing kindness to myself is vital if I'm going to be of any use to the rest of the world.

Thank you, too, Delwyn.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie,

Thank you for the comment. The Blitzed/Blissed connection was exactly what sealed this expression as a Cinquain. You spotted it. That makes me feel good. The poem worked, at least that much.

As a Buddhist, I cultivate an awareness and appreciation for impermanence. I always smile when I hear anyone--and poets as great as Tennyson don't get a free pass--talk about going on forever.

Grim as this sounds, it can be very helpful to keep you on track with your deepest goals to remember that you might be dead in five minutes. (And then, to avoid sinking into a funk, go back to your five year-old mind that thinks you're permanent.)

Dan Gurney said...

Mark, you got it. I have to admit this: I am helped by the fact that about a month ago, the computer on my desk mysteriously quit connect to the Internet. This has proved a boon, as I connect to Mother Nature instead. She's a richer Internet anyway.

Dan Gurney said...

Jinksy, if it weren't for the sharps and trebles, I would have passed over this poem and kept looking. His ears apparently worked a lot like yours and mine.

The Pollinatrix said...

Lovely, lovely.

I relate to your teaching lament. I too love to teach, but it truly is exhausting at times. What a blessing (or should I say "blissing"?) to have a little nature refuge nearby!

Stream Source said...

So blessed are we to have reached a place where we realize that refuge is always nearby ~~~

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Polli--

I am indeed lucky to have a natural five acres in back of the school. I really do need it at times.

Dan Gurney said...

Stream Source, refuge is omnipresent, as close as the next out breath. If you're practicing Tonglen, you already know that.