Waka (poetry)

type of poetry in classical Japanese literature
(Redirected from Waka)

Waka (Japanese: 和歌) or Yamato uta is a genre of Japanese poetry. Waka literally means "Japanese poem" in Japanese. The word waka was originally created by poets during the Heian Period to make clear the difference between native Japanese poetry and the kanshi (Japanese: 漢詩, "Chinese poems"). This meant that they put together several different styles, one of them being tanka (Japanese: 短歌 lit. "short poem") and the other chōka (Japanese: 長歌 lit. "long poem"). There are others: bussokusekika (Japanese: 仏足石歌 lit. "rock of the Buddha's footprint poem"), sedōka (Japanese: 旋頭歌 lit. "whirling head poem") and katauta (Japanese: 片歌 lit. "poem fragment").

These last three forms were no longer used at the beginning of the Heian Period, and chōka also disappeared a short time after. So, the term waka came in time to mean the same as tanka. Tanka is a much older form of Japanese poetry than haiku.

Waka did not follow any rules of rhyme, nor line; it was a free style kind of poetry. This can be seen in this example of tanka written by poet Yamanoue no Okura (660 - 733)

銀も Shirogane mo    What are they to me,
金も玉も Kogane mo tama mo Silver, or gold, or jewels?
何せんに Nanisen ni    How could they ever
まされる宝 Masareru takara Equal the greater treasure
子にしかめやも Koni shikame yamo That is a child? They can't.

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