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  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.



Page history last edited by Vaughn Seward 11 years, 7 months ago

The Psyche Love Poetry Series: Introduction & Index

In June, 2008 Hugh Bygott and Robert Wilson started a series of non-linked tanka on the subject of Love on the simply_haiku Yahoo haiku group. The following is the archives of this series (maintained by Vaughn Seward).


Archives for Series 1-2 (Tanka 01 - 20): Jun 04 - Jun 14, 2009

Archives for Series 3-4 (Tanka 21 - 40): Jun 14 - Nov 12, 2009

Archives for Series 5-6 (Tanka 41 - 60): Nov 12 - Dec 15, 2009

Archives for Series 7-8 (Tanka 61 - 80): Dec 15 - Dec 22, 2009





This is a new series dedicated to love tanka. Its first inspiration is from the Man’yôshû from the VIII Century. This was the first anthology of waka, the classical 5-line Japanese poem. The greatest tanka poet of the Meiji era was undoubtedly Akiko Yosano whose sensuous poetry sets the limit of erotica for this series. Inspiration will also be taken from modern tanka, but always keeping that sensitivity and refinement which has been and continues to be the hallmark of Eros.


It seems that it is very appropriate to call this series Psyche. Those who know Classical Mythology will recall that Psyche was the lover of Cupid, the milder Roman form of Eros, the Greek god of love. The story of late antiquity was first told by the Roman writer Apuleius. In Roman mythology, Psyche was so beautiful that Venus became jealous and asked her son Cupid to make Pysche fall in love with the ugliest creature on Earth. But Cupid falls in love with Psyche and many complications follow. By devious means, Cupid takes her to a hidden palace where he visits each night. Psche can never find who her lover is until one night she holds a candle while he sleeps. A drop of wax falls and wakes Cupid who then vanishes. Psyche then searches the world for her lover. This searching has lead to the philosophical idea that Psyche represents the human soul seeking its destiny. The most powerful idea in all of this is that love causes pain. This idea persists in many forms of poetry such as the Elizabethan sonnets and in Japanese Classical renga. Many tanka written for this series will certainly have a similar theme.


Here are some examples of love tanka:


Fragrant lilies

In this room of love;

Hair unbound,

I fear

The pink of night’s passing.


Akiko Yosano [Tr. Goldstein/Schinoda 5] 



This short summer night,

the crimson dawn is breaking

to end my troubled sleep . . .

I dreamed of flower’d rooms,

sweet fragrant lacquer’d hair. 


Dreams of Geisha; Journey of a Samurai XIII. Hugh Bygott 1999.



On the autumn’s fields,

over ripenng spears of grain,

drifts the morning mist:

Wither will it ever vanish,

my love, and be no more. 


Empress Iwanohime, possibly IV Century or V Century. One of the earliest poems in the Man’yôshû. [Tr. Edwin Cranston]



Allow no doubt -

the scent of lip rouge from my


at this, the moment of parting -

shall be for ever and ever, my love. 


Akiko Yosano [Tr. Janine Beichmannn Embacing the Firebird p 115]



Here is the first tanka in the series, Psyche [1:1] 


Autumn winds,

the promise of coming chill . . .

so it is with love

when words fly from shallow hearts

which never yet have yielded.


It can be seen that this tanka could be reduced to a haiku. 


Autumn winds -

promise of coming chill . . .

thus is shallow love.


Perhaps this was how the hokku form evolved from the classical waka. We hope that subscribers will keep in mind this intimate connection between the two forms.


We invite subscribers of simply_haiku now to join the series.


Robert Wilson and Hugh Bygott (June 4, 2009)