Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry
Filipino - Tanaga
The Tanaga is a type of short
poem, consisting of four lines with seven syllables each with the
same rhyme at the end of each line --- that is to say a 7-7-7-7
Syllabic verse, with an AAAA
rhyme scheme as in this example:
Old Tagalog original:
"Catitibay ca tolos
sacaling datnang agos!
aco’I momonting lomot
sa iyo,I popolopot."
In the Modern
Katitibay ka Tulos
Sakaling datnang agos!
Ako'y mumunting lumot
sa iyo'y pupulupot.
Oh be resilient you Stake
Should the waters be coming!
I shall cower as the moss
To you I shall be clinging.
Translation by Jardine Davies
The above Tanaga is attributed to Friars Juan de Noceda and Pedro de Sanlucar by
Vim Nadera, and quoted them as saying “Poesia muy alta en tagalo, compuesta de
siete silabas, y cuatro versos, llena de metafora.” (1500's) ("There is high
poetry in Tagalog, composed of seven syllables and four verses with frequent
History of the Tanaga
Like the Japanese
haiku, Tanagas traditionally do not have any titles. They are poetic forms
that should speak for themselves. Most are handed down by oral history, and
contain proverbial forms, moral lessons, and snippets of a code of ethics.
A poetic form similar to the ambahan is the tanaga. Unlike the ambahan whose
length is indefinite, the tanaga is a compact seven-syllable quatrain. Poets
test their skills at rhyme, meter and metaphor
through the tanaga because not only is it rhymed and measured but also exacts
skillful use of words to create a puzzle that demands some kind of an answer.
It is almost considered a dying art form, but is currently being revived by
the Cultural Center of the Philippines and National Commission of the Arts.
Poetry groups, like the PinoyPoets who have been promoting Filipino poetry in
English and the vernacular are also advocating the spread of this art form.
The Modern Tanaga
The Modern Tanaga, still uses the 7777 syllable count, but rhymes range from
dual rhyme forms: AABB, ABAB, ABBA; to freestyle forms such as AAAB, BAAA, or
ABCD. Tanagas do not have titles traditionally because the Tanaga should speak
for itself. However, moderns can opt to give them titles.
Tanaga in other Languages
While the Tanaga is originally intended to be written in Tagalog, it has been
written in other languages such as English. Like-minded poets from all over the
world are encouraged to utilize the Tanaga.
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