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Picture Poems

Golden Cattails

This poem is a tanka. The tanka is the big brother of the haiku. It has five lines of seven syllables in a pattern of 5-7-5, 7-7. A tanka should contain references to two related famous poems, one within its first three lines and one within the concluding pair.

This tanka references two poems about gold glittering. Most tanka do not rhyme (indeed, some masters of the form considered rhyme a flaw) but I decided to make the final lines of each section rhyme.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
      -Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (I, x), 1965

All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
      -Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (II, vii), 1596

Light springs from shadows—
Between the December frosts
Blades glitter with gold crowns.

Dying reeds have gilded tombs ‘till
Snow enfolds these marshland downs.