Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shifting Sand

Countless ages past,
On this beach of shifting sand
Great mountains once stood.
I can barely remember
The reasons for our parting.


Dan Gurney said...

Very nice. I like the shift between lines 3 and 4, which I'm learning, is a common feature of Tanka poems.

Jim714 said...

Dear Dan:

The two-part structure of Tanka is a notable feature. Often the two parts are connected by a "pivot" line, meaning a line which can conclude the first part, and also be the first line of the second part. It's a kind of hinge. This Tanka doesn't have a pivot; instead it simply has two parts in juxtaposition.

The use of a pivot is highly developed in Japanese Tanka. Some U.S. Tanka poets consider the pivot a defining characteristic of Tanka; but I am reluctant to go that far. It is true that the pivot technique is widely used in Japan, but I've learned that it is not universal. There are many Tanka that are unitary in nature; that is to say they express a single thought or describe a single scene. If I were teaching a course in Tanka I would have a section on the use of a pivot, but I would also give examples of the unitary approach, and non-pivot based juxtaposition or shift.

Thanks for taking the time to comment,