Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Tanka

I.

Winter?   Spring?   Who knows?
     White buds from the plumtrees wing
And mingle with the snows.
No blue skies these flowers bring,
Yet their fragrance augurs Spring.

II.

Oh, were the white waves,
     Far on the glimmering sea
That the moonshine laves,
Dream flowers drifting to me,—
I would cull them, love, for thee.

III.

Moon, somnolent, white,
     Mirrored in a waveless sea,
What fickle mood of night
Urged thee from heaven to flee
And live in the dawnlit sea?

IV.

Like mist on the leas,
     Fall gently, oh rain of Spring
On the orange trees
That to Ume’s casement cling—
Perchance, she’ll hear the love-bird sing.

V.

Though love has grown cold
     The woods are bright with flowers,
Why not as of old
Go to the wildwood bowers
And dream of—bygone hours!

VI.

Tell, what name beseems
     These vain and wandering days!
Like the bark of dreams
That from souls at daybreak strays
They are lost on trackless ways.

VII.

Oh, climb to my lips,
     Frail muse of the amber wine!
Joy to him who sips
Cups of fragrant sake wine
Flowing from some fount divine.

VII.

If pleasures be mine
     As aeons and aeons roll by,
Why should I repine
That under some future sky
I may life as butterfly?

IX.

Were we able to tell
     When old age would come our way,
We would muffle the bell,
Lock the door and go away—
Let him call some other day.

Credit


From Tanka and Haikai: Japanese Rhythms (1916) by Sadakichi Hartmann. These poems are in the public domain.

Author


Sadakichi Hartmann

Carl Sadakichi Hartmann, born in the late 1860s in Japan, was a dramatist, fiction writer, and art critic. His poetry collections include Naked Ghosts: Four Poems (Fantasia, 1925), Tanka and Haiku: 14 Japanese Rhythms (G. Bruno, 1915), and My Rubaiyat (Mangan, 1913). He died in November 1944.

Date Published: 1916-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/tanka