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Celestial Paths of Sun and Moon

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

Three Tankas about the sun and moon.



Sun hits the zenith

And observes the busy world

Then quickly moves on

To greet another morning

On the other side of Earth



The moon takes the night

And casts its eerie presence

On the sleeping world

Before passing through the sky

To meet another dark night.



The sun and the moon

Casts their light upon the earth

Breaking through darkness

Painting celestial paths.

As we know as day and night.

Tanka, Western Style

Infusing Tanka into western poetry hasn’t always been successful. In fact, some purist will argue that the use of Tanka, Haibun, and Haiku by Western poets has been a dismal failure.

Part of the problem is that the syllable counts in Western languages barely (or never) match Japanese. In a sense, Tanka in the West doesn’t often translate into Japanese (The same can be said about a Tanka, Japanese style being translated into English).

Most poets on both sides of the Pacific often adhere to the typical syllable counts in their own languages. Also, many of these Tankas focus on nature; however, an increasing number of these poems have subjects or themes devoid of the natural world. The writers have used rhymes, metaphors, similes and other literary device to express their thoughts in the Tankas. Many of them are akin to the Romantic movement of English and American poetry of the early to mid 19th century, and have an experimental quality to them (especially those written in the mid to late 20th century and early 21st century).

Typical Format:

Although Tanka translate as “Short Poem” it is still a bit lengthier than the typical Haiku or Senryu (then again these two formats started as a larger part of a poem).

  • 1ST line: 5 syllables
  • 2nd line: 7 syllables
  • 3rd line: 5 syllables
  • 4th line: 7 syllables
  • 5th line: 7 syllables

sun and moon over the North Pole

sun and moon over the North Pole

© 2012 Dean Traylor