OctPoWriMo Day 16 – Choka – October 16, 2015

moonlit vineyard

The Warrior

under the moon light
in the last days of autumn
the warrior stood tall –
loosing her bow her arrow
made a perfect arc
then returning unto earth
fell in an arbour
draped in red and orange leaves –
a lone raven crowed
and two grey wood doves bubbled
the cold wind whispered –
she sighed in her keen knowledge
that snow would soon fall
pulling her woollen cape close
she looked one last time
then turning she walked away
remembering him
only as a summer breeze
she – one with the night
continued to walk her path

there in the moon light
of the last days of autumn
the warrior once stood
her woollen mantle drawn close
as softly fell a snow flake

© G.s.k. ‘15

Originally, the choka or long poem was an epic poem relating deeds of honour, love and other stories. It was more often than not sung and many were passed down only orally in that form. It was a form borrowed from the Chinese (in Japanese waka) – as were many other things in those far off days, including writing and Buddhism.

The choka can be of almost any length, because its form depends on alternating phrases (or lines) containing five – seven sound (onji) units (which we’ll call syllables).  The end of the poem ends using two lines of seven syllables. So the form is five/seven/five, five/seven, five/seven, …. , five/seven/five/seven/seven (which creates a tanka).

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34 thoughts on “OctPoWriMo Day 16 – Choka – October 16, 2015

  1. Brava cara, the Queen of Choka still using that 4-letter word (snow) but I`ll forgive you. I love this,it also goes well with the photo at OctPoWriMo too. I truly love the mix of B+W and colour in your photo!!

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    • Wow … thanks Sunita … it’s fallen more or less into oblivion, though some modern poets (both English writers and Japanese) have been trying to revive it.

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    • It’s been around forever … but has fallen into disuse, like so many other poetic forms – some English writers as well as a few modern Japanese poets have begun to experiment with it once again …

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  2. This form is new to me as well and I love it…your poem was like staring at a painting that unfolded before my eyes. beautiful. (we have the that four-letter word starting with ‘s’ in the forecast here this morning!)

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    • Thanks Grace … I simply adore choka. When I started to specialize as a haiku writer, I discovered that sometimes I wanted to say more than can be said in a haiku (classical or free verse form) so I’ve been studying the older forms of kyoka, sedoka and choka … and of course chained haiku and troiku.

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