Breathe: A Waka* with Kennings**


Breathe: A Waka* with Kennings**

Come breaker of trees
Crawl ‘tween shining sky-candle
and vast blue whale’s way,
blow the burning bane of wood
breathe life back to me, for good.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.

Photo credit: Unsplash

In response to Napowrimo Day 20. (yes, catching up! :D)


And finally, our prompt (optional, as always)! Today’s prompt comes to us from Vince Gotera, who suggests a prompt very much in keeping with our poet in translation, a “kenning” poem.

**Kennings were riddle-like metaphors used in the Norse sagas. Basically, they are ways of calling something not by its actual name, but by a sort of clever, off-kilter description — for example, the sea would be called the “whale road.” Today, I challenge you to think of a single thing or person (a house, your grandmother, etc), and then write a poem that consists of kenning-like descriptions of that thing or person. 

Kennings I used are:

Wind – breaker of trees
Sun – sky-candle
Sea – whale’s way
Fire – bane of wood


The waka is:

  • a pentastich, a poem written in 5 lines.
  • syllabic, 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. 31 onji, in English, 31 syllables.
  • true to the heart of the poet. The inspiration is to be drawn from the experience.
  • an early model for the tanka and many other Japanese forms.
  • gathered into collections. In most Japanese anthologies poems are arranged in seasonal sequence followed by considered, poetic-worthy topics such as love or grief.

Read more of my Napowrimo 2016 poems here!