Cosmological Tanka

Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the form of Japanese poetry known as Haiku. I’ve even had a go at producing some cosmological Haiku myself. I suspect rather fewer will have come across another form known as Tanka. Being 31 syllables long rather than the 17 of Haiku, these are not quite as short but still quite a challenge to write.  They comprise 5 lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern of syllables. I’m told by Japanese friends that Tanka are specifically written to celebrate a special event or to capture the mood of a particular moment. Here is an exquisite example by a famous poet called Otomo No Yakamochi:

From outside my house,
only the faint distant sound
of gentle breezes
wandering through bamboo leaves
in the long evening silence.

I’ve had a go at composing a couple of Tanka to do with specific moments in cosmology. Here’s one about the epoch of recombination:

An electron finds
a proton and marries it;
they make hydrogen.
Simultaneous weddings
free light across the cosmos.

I was talking to some students about the spherical collapse model so here’s a Tanka for that:

I was more dense than
my surroundings, expanded
more slowly, then stopped.
Now I must start to collapse;
soon I shall virialize.

Further attempts welcome through the comments box!

One Response to “Cosmological Tanka”

  1. Just pure, cosmic awesomeness!!

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