Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Poetic Musings: Night Airplane Tanka by Gerald St. Maur

Just out of earshot,
the periodic blinking
of a night airplane,
not quite far enough away
to be as close as the stars

The Tanka Anthology, 2003

Gerald St. Maur

Commentary: In this poem, the first three lines could stand alone as a haiku, a feature that may be found in many contemporary English tanka. Such tanka combine the objective imagery of a haiku with a subjective response or personal reflection in the poem’s concluding lines; the order can also be reversed. It is the subjective element in a tanka that chiefly distinguishes it from most haiku, in addition to its greater length. Here, the concluding two-line component is a simple, personal reflection or response to the initial image, placing the silent aircraft in the context of a starry sky.  The twist in sense here—that the aircraft is the more remote, alien object—gives a postmodern slant to the traditional tanka theme of loneliness... -- excerpted from "To the Lighthouse: Introduction to The Tanka Anthology by Michael McClintock

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