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Tanka - Death and Dying

Updated on April 17, 2012
San Miniato al Monte (Firenze) in Firenze, Italy
San Miniato al Monte (Firenze) in Firenze, Italy | Source

Passages - On Dying and Death - Tanka


Dr. Darryl Winer

In man’s finite days

The last of them unplanned

Comes without warning

A beloved heart sadly stilled

Rich memories as comfort

Daily adventures

Through the eyes of the living

That’s what’s expected

Dying narrows the focus

To just few remaining breaths

Creeping in shadows

Death, as it is wont to do

Exacts its full price

From man’s fragile existence

Without remorse or regret

Humans grasp and claw

As temporary beings

Death gives no quarter


Time passes us by

Harsh reality

Unbending and unyielding

Our time vanishes

The perspective in reverse

Sees only that which has been

Dwindling moments

Not necessarily grim

A smile and farewell

A life satisfied, complete

Without lament or envy

Years turn as pages

Life as abundant prologue

Fortified and full

The journey draws to a close

And now, simple dénouement

Live exuberant

Extracting all life can give

Embracing and savoring

Know our time is limited

Death, shaking its hoary fist

Empty, hollow life

Death in successive moments

Wasted time and breath

Personal failure to live

Unfulfilled and desolate

Time evaporates

As life fades into whisper

Scarcely audible

To ears but strident to souls

Of those with unfinished work



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    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Colorado

      Hi Cleaner3 (and fellow Coloradoan)-

      Thanks for dropping by and your kind words.

      Tanka (and Haiku) seem to resonate with me. Their structure makes some sort of intuitive sense. On tough or emotional topics, it seems that tanka, with its extra two seven syllable lines helps me wrap up the topic.

      Thanks again.


    • cleaner3 profile image


      6 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      wow, like this style. I am a free verse poet so styles don't really apply to my poetry. i just like to rhyme and the words come from my soul. i try to just stay on topic but usually the inner feelings take over. Great poetry.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Colorado

      Hi Beyond-

      Tanka does use the short-long-short-long-long back and forth that could be felt/heard as, maybe, 4/4 time music with the first three lines responded to by the last two lines.

      Both haiku and tanka put a premium on words. The extra words in the tanka help make the thought but are sometimes difficult to get to match.


    • BeyondMax profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yes, I thought so too. A couple hours later epiphany struck me with the thought that it reminds me of syncopation somehow, very similar feeling, amazing really, music to the ears. As much as I appreciate Haiku, Tanka just envelopes and swallows you whole like nothing else does.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Colorado

      Hi Beyond-

      Once again, I think you give me too much credit. Maybe it was the extra lines of the tanka that seem to give it a "back and forth" rhyme feeling. I did choose tanka because I found the extra two 7 syllable lines (lower phrase) the necessary counterpoint to the upper phrase. Just written as haiku did not seem complete. Or maybe, writing about this subject matter is tough for me and I had to wrestle it a bit.

      Thanks for your thoughts.


    • BeyondMax profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Mighty Tanka, intense. Doc, what surprises me about this philosophical piece is not only the depth but the way you composed it, it is like I can clearly hear flowy traditional rhyme. I even went back and re-read it a couple times and I swear I can still feel the rhyme. How did you do that? It's just unreal.


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