“It is similar in nature to the Japanese short forms of haiku or tanka. Most tanagas were passed down orally. They are claimed to be one of the oldest form of poetry in the Philippines,” says Grace. “We'll be working with a "modern" tanaga; historical ones are written in Tagalog or other Filipino dialects.
“A tanaga is a short poem of four lines, each line seven syllables with a single rhyme,” she continues. “Today, other rhyme schemes are used, including freestyle rhyme, but for the purpose of this exercise, let's try to stick with couplets.”
I’m glad Grace mentioned other rhyme schemes are in use today because, while I did try to stick to couplets for a few Tanagas, I broke the rhyme pattern in the last one. Even a simple format isn’t always easy!
Each of these was written to stand alone, but they can be read together without losing the theme.
seven syllables have we
for this form of poetry
poems can be metaphors
for life’s windows, for life’s doors
my life is many verses
the kind no one rehearses
strife happens in life, and then,
some things will happen again
memories of days long gone
are a most seductive song
time has blurred memory’s eye
we remember, and we sigh
in poems we look inward
we look forward, we look back
give thanks for what we’re given
yet we yearn for what we lack