Home »

Waka (poetry)

The meaning of «waka (poetry)»

Waka (和歌, "Japanese poem") is a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature. Although waka in modern Japanese is written as 和歌, in the past it was also written as 倭歌 (see Wa, an old name for Japan), and a variant name is yamato-uta (大和歌).

The word waka has two different but related meanings: the original meaning was "poetry in Japanese" and encompassed several genres such as chōka and sedōka (discussed below); the later, more common definition refers to poetry in a 5-7-5-7-7 metre. Up to and during the compilation of the Man'yōshū in the eighth century, the word waka was a general term for poetry composed in Japanese, and included several genres such as tanka (短歌, "short poem"), chōka (長歌, "long poem"), bussokusekika (仏足石歌, "Buddha footprint poem") and sedōka (旋頭歌, "repeating-the-first-part poem"). However, by the time of the Kokinshū's compilation at the beginning of the tenth century, all of these forms except for the tanka and chōka had effectively gone extinct, and chōka had significantly diminished in prominence. As a result, the word waka became effectively synonymous with tanka, and the word tanka fell out of use until it was revived at the end of the nineteenth century (see Tanka).

Tanka (hereafter referred to as waka) consist of five lines (句, ku, literally "phrases") of 5-7-5-7-7 on or syllabic units. Therefore, tanka is sometimes called Misohitomoji (三十一文字), meaning it contains 31 syllables in total.

The term waka originally encompassed a number of differing forms, principally tanka (短歌, "short poem") and chōka (長歌, "long poem"), but also including bussokusekika, sedōka (旋頭歌, "memorized poem") and katauta (片歌, "poem fragment").[2] These last three forms, however, fell into disuse at the beginning of the Heian period, and chōka vanished soon afterwards. Thus, the term waka came in time to refer only to tanka.[3][4]

Chōka consist of 5-7 on phrases repeated at least twice, and conclude with a 5-7-7 ending

The briefest chōka documented is Man'yōshū no. 802, which is of a pattern 5-7 5-7 5-7 5-7-7. It was composed by Yamanoue no Okura in the Nara period and runs:

The chōka above is followed by an envoi (反歌, hanka) in tanka form, also written by Okura:

In the early Heian period (at the beginning of the 10th century), chōka was seldom written and tanka became the main form of waka. Since then, the generic term waka came to be almost synonymous with tanka. Famous examples of such works are the diaries of Ki no Tsurayuki and Izumi Shikibu, as well as such collections of poem tales as The Tales of Ise and The Tales of Yamato.

Lesser forms of waka featured in the Man'yōshū and other ancient sources exist. Besides that, there were many other forms like:

Waka has a long history, first recorded in the early 8th century in the Kojiki and Man'yōshū. Under influence from other genres such as kanshi, novels and stories such as Tale of Genji and even Western poetry, it developed gradually, broadening its repertoire of expression and topics.

© 2015-2021, Wikiwordbook.info
Copying information without reference to the source is prohibited!
contact us mobile version