TANKA TAKE HOME - 22 December, 2021

hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh



“Matsu hito no / ima mo kitara ba / ikaga sen / humamaku oshiki / niwa no yuki kana”

If the one I’ve waited for

came now, what should I do?

This morning’s garden filled with snow

is far too lovely

for footsteps to mar.

—Izumi Shikibu

“Shikibu has waited through the night, once again, for a lover who did not appear—this time, however, she has transcended the situation. This poem is slightly reminiscent of Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man”:


One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow…

and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind…

Shikibu has achieved this “mind of winter,” accepting both what is there and what is not, at one with things as they are.”

—The Ink Dark Moon - Love poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu.

Women of ancient Court of Japan.

Translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani


(This book has the English translation of poems by two great Japanese women tanka poets. It also has the original Japanese versions and if anyone wants to read how they have translated the verses we strongly recommend you buy the book. We can only post the tanka and probably a short excerpt. There’s a good portion of the book dedicated to the translation method.)

I’m intrigued by the “mind of winter”. What does it mean? I look forward to your thoughts on it and Shikibu’s beautiful verse. Does it inspire you to write? Please share your tanka here.


We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished tanka and tanka-prose (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in haikuKATHA monthly magazine.

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