Tanka : Swan-Song

One of the oldest Japanese poetic forms, Tanka originated in the seventh century and soon became extremely popular. The traditional Tanka consists of 31 syllables  in the form 5-7-5-7-7  and . The word Tanka can be roughly translated as ” short song/poem”. This is my first attempt to pen a tanka in response to WP’s Writing Challenge Full Tanka .



high up the mountain

a single swan swims around

looking for its mate

the sun leaving the last hue

mist curling over the lake


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85 responses to “Tanka : Swan-Song

  1. Pingback: Swan Song | Tales of The Opal Moon·

  2. What a description! Enacts a picture of the scene! So romantic and beautiful! You should write tanka, you nailed it, proving my point that you excel in any form of expression.

    BTW, I think the title could be a little cheery, considering the beauty you described! Swan Song is the last performance of a virtuoso. It was coined during the 19th century England for opera singers. Mythologically, the Phoenix sings its final song and then bursts into flames, to be reborn again through its ashes. That song is termed as a Swan Song and any performance of a master before their retirement is called a honored by that name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your words make me happy, always… 😀

      By the way, this is a picture taken in Sikkim. When we reached there, it was late afternoon, the water of the lake was still and clear, just like a mirror. Chilly wind was blowing, the temperature was probably 3 or 4 °C. We halted there and as each of us was savouring cuppa Maggi made by the locals, I was having a little chat with them. One of them said, many years ago, swans lived in the lake. They used to create a lot of noise and thus were adulterating the sanctity of the place, the abode of celestial beings. One day, the celestial beings cursed them. All of them disappeared magically except for the one who had been migrated to some other place for the time being. He came back later, couldn’t find his mate and was grieved so much that he fell and died singing his last song. 😦

      The story was in my mind when I composed the tanka and hence, the name.

      Pura Arabian Nights likh daala reply mein…. 😀 😀 Sorry for making it too long….


      • Then it makes sense and is a befitting title. Considering the story, it was a beautiful homage to that ancient Swan.

        Loved the story! So sweet and romantic! Ye apne bhagwan log bhi bade attitude wale the! Itti si baat pe shraap! Had hai! :/

        But, it will make a very beautiful story! Another inspiration! 😀 And, loved the photograph. I thought you filched it from google. It’s so beautiful!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Gods are cruel and full of attitudes, most of the times.. :/
        Would be happy to read a story on this hints… 😀

        Thanks, I give due credits when I fetch random pictures from Google 😀 otherwise, all the pictures here on this blog are my clicks 🙂 amateurish endeavours…. 😀


      • People usually consider that pros are good and amateurs contemptible. In fact, it’s always the other way around, if you consider from the standpoint of creativity. A professional has better techniques and experience, but he lacks the soul, patience, creativity and the eye for beauty. An amateur will not shoot anything for months, till he finds something that tickles him deep within, whereas, a pro would shoot 72 pix a day. The reason being, it’s his living and he cannot afford to be a connoisseur.

        I know that, because I learned it the hard way. I was a professional photographer during 91 to 94, although I wasn’t full time. Photography was my passion and I had a good eye and a great taste, so I decided to earn money through that to finance my studies. Kuchh dino baad I lost the ecstatic pleasure, which I used to get after shooting a sprig of wildflower and it was reduced to simply an exposure with f-stop and shutter speed settings. I earned money, true, but paid dearly. I lost my passion for photography. Now, I don’t get that orgasmic feeling, after a nicely framed shot, which I get at the completion of a satisfying story. Photography is passé now. You can say that I’m calloused now. 😦

        A simple example: You don’t write haiku, tanka or story everyday because you have to. You write when you want to. That’s the difference A professional is compulsive. A long driver is amateur and a taxi driver is professional. You can’t say that a taxi driver is enjoying driving.

        Thank God that you aren’t a professional. ‘Professional Artist’ is an oxymoron.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ma’am, if implements made artists and I’d have bought the costliest pen and would have challenged Shakespeare. 😀

        You are right about high end tools etc. Lekin, jiski handwriting achhi ho, wo lakdi ke pen se bhi achha likhega. Pros are good with technicalities, but they don’t have the passion. All the artists are amateur till end. Ask Van Gogh or Ghalib. That’s why they died poor. If they would have been pro, they would have been richer na!

        Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very different perspective, I must say. In photography, especially as there are are so many photo-walks, photo groups, blah blah blah on different social media, even dedicated ones like Pinterest and Instagram, they say that there is almost no place for amateurs. With high-end cameras and technical skills and editing tools, people can now do whatever they want with pictures. But what you said, woh bhi sochnewali baat hai. Professionalism often kills the passion, though seldom people confer on the fact.


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  6. I learnt the meaning of Haiku through your blog and now learning about Tanka. Thanks for all these enjoyable writes. The picture and Tanka goes very well. I would love to enjoy this serene beauty with a loved one rather than in tranquility 🙂 so, may the mist clear and the swan finds it mate.


  7. Pingback: An Astronaut and a Star – The 8th of September 2005 – Plainview, Texas | Forgotten Correspondence·

  8. This is that moment (again) when you realize that you studied literature and participated in a lot of quiz competitions and yet don’t know enough poetic forms 😀 Thanks for the new format 🙂


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