A Glossary Of Literary Terms

A: Arabic/Persian/Farsi; Gr: Greek; L: Latin; J: Japanese; Fr. French; K: Korean; Heb: Hebrew.
In the Japanese language nouns are the same in both the plural and singular form. When we adopt the word in English, we honor this by refraining to add the ‘s’ of our plural. In indicating pronunciations, the letter within the parenthesis shows the word the sound is taken from but is itself not spoken.

accent – AC(t)-SENT (L: accentus – song added to speech) Greater articulary force, resulting from greater musculatory exertion in forming a sound. This may be achieved by raised or lowered pitch, or duration or a combination of both. Though some find differences between accent and stress, the two words are often used interchangeably.

acrostic – A-CROSS-TIC (Gr. at the tip of the verse) In an acrostic verse the first letter, or the last, of each line or stanza adds up to the name of the topic, the author, addressee or the title of the work. The oldest examples are from Babylonian texts from1,000 B.C. Both Chinese ring poems (which can be read by starting anywhere in the poem) and Japanese poems use the acrostic.

ageku -AH-GAY-COO (J: completing verse) The last stanza of a renga. The link that attempts to summarize the whole work with a reference to the beginning stanza.

aishôka AA-EYE-SHOW-KAH (J: laments) One of the designated topics for the organization of poems within an anthology and of certain stanzas of a renga.

allegory – ALL-LEH-GORY (Gr. allos "other" + agoreuein "to speak") A work that is composed so that its apparent sense can also refer to another different sense at the same time. At times this has been done by an extended metaphor or figural images. It is part of the process of trying to express what cannot be said with language and plays a large part in love poetry of all languages.

alliteration – A-LITTER-A-SHUN The repetition of a sound in different words close enough for the ear to hear them together. Alliteration was often used in early poetry before the popularity of rhyme. Almost every major poetry used alliteration except Isreali, Persian and Arabic.

allusion – A-LOU-SHUN The inclusion in a poem of identifiable elements from other sources. The allusion can be used to display knowledge, exclude the unknowledgeable reader, or to add richness and depth to the poem. Often the source of the allusion was other written works - honkadori, but in Japanese poetry works of art, famous places and everyday life were widely used.

aphorism – A-FOR-ISM. See epigram.

assonance – ASS-OH-NONCE (L: assonare – to answer with the same sound) An aural device in which one word echoes another. Sometimes used in substitution for rhyme even in modern times. Assonance is close to, but not the same as alliteration.

aware - AH-WAH-RAY (J: touching-ness) The quality of an object to touch one's emotions, often with pathos or sadness. Your native flag has aware; another country's better designed flag does not have it.

banka – BAHN-KAH J: Poems of mourning for a death. A category of poetry used in organizing anthologies.

Basho - BAH-SHOW and not BASH-OH (J: banana tree) The pen name of the poet Matsuo Yozaemon inspired by his delight in a such a plant given to him by a student to be planted outside the window of his newest hut on the outskirts of what is now known as Tokyo. Renga Master, Poet of Poets, Legend of Japanese literature: Basho is now a common English-Japanese word that makes people respond with the words, "Frog!" or "Autumn Crow!" in the same way that "Thank you" brings forth "You are welcome".

bathos – BA-TOES (Gr: depth) An attempt at elevated expression which misfires and so had the unintentional effect of sudden transport from the sublime to the ridiculous. Bathos maybe consciously used in parody for an anticlimax of irony but most of the time the term is applied in a pejorative manner to the work of others.

blank verse Poetry in which a highly patterned line shape replaced rhyme. The style was developed in England between 1539 – 1546 by the Earl of Surrey for his translation of the books of the Aeneid. The obliteration of the rhyme scheme greatly aided the writing of longer works and reintroduced the word order of the spoken language. It was greatly used by Shakespeare who mixed blank verse with rhymed verse and songs to add variety to his plays.

bungaku BUN-GAH-COO J: The study of literature.

bungei BUN-GEE J: Literature or art.

caesura - SAY-SURE-A (F. césure) A break in the metrical structure of a line. Related to the pause but is usually indicated with a punctuation and is therefore slightly longer in duration. It is closer to a ‘rest’ than a pause. Absolutely vital in the rhythm patterns of the sijo.

cinquain – SIN-QUAY-N The poetry form devised by Adelaide Crapsy around 1910, supposedly based on the tanka, in which five lines are filled with the syllable count of 2/4/6/8/2.

choka - CHOKE-AH (J: long poem) A poem of indeterminate length which was built on the repeating of a 5-7, 5-7 sound units per line pattern. The final couplet indicated the close by using 7/7 units. The longest example in the Man’ yoshû consists of 149 lines. A favorite genre about a thousand years ago which has enjoyed some revival at different times since.

chokusenshû CHOKE-OU-SEN-SHOE J: The twenty-one anthologies of poetry commissioned by imperial decree in thirteen different eras.

clerihew CLAIRE-EE-HEW A light-verse English poetry form for giving biographical information in quatrains consisting of two rhymed couplets developed by Edmund Clerihew Bentley as a schoolboy in 1890. The clerihew is deliberately clunky and rough and seems related to the limerick.

dai - DAY'EE (J: given subject) In Japan it was often customary that a group of poets were given a theme on which to write their poems for competitions. Thus, it came that poets often organized their own work according to certain acceptable topics.

daisan - DAY'EE-SAH-N (J: the third) In renga, the official name for the third stanza which ends, in English, with a verb - often a gerund [ending in -ing].

danjo utaawase - DAN-JOE-OU-TAH-WAH-SAY J: A tanka contest with men on one side and women on the other.

Danrin – DAN-RIN J: A popular style of haikai no renga to which Basho was opposed. It had become light-hearted, witty and to his thinking, frivolous. His student Kikaku was more in line with danrin school ideals and yet, at the end of Basho’s life, when he adopted a philosophy of writing with more lightness, Kikaku left him.

divan (diwan) – DIE-WAN (A: collection). Used in a title of a book, it means a collection or anthology. Used in the upper case it refers to the collection of Hafez’s poetry that is used as a tool of divination in the Middle East.

dokugin - DOE-COO-JEAN J: A solo work of a sequence or renga written by one person.

engo – EN-GO (J: verbal association) Words thought to be associated by meaning, convention or sound. A knowledge of these was absolutely basic to the writing of tanka, in order to connect the two sections, and in renga to make the leaps between links.

enjambment - N-JAM-MENT (Fr: enjambement) The practice named by Ronsard in the 16th century of breaking the sense of a line by placing part of the phrase on the second line. A device in which the phrase end is no longer the end of the line. The practice of the enjambment causes a slight distress in the audience because the reader wants the phrase break to come in the familiar place for the rhythm of the poem but it doesn’t. Often the sense of the poem can be changed or emphasis given by creating an enjambment.

epigram – EH-PAH-GRAM (Gr: epigramma – inscription) The use of satire as an aphoristic observation with extreme brevity and caustic wit. Most often takes the form of a couplet or quatrain but the tone defines the genre more than the shape. Both the Japanese haiku and senryu exhibit this quality.

epitaph – EH-PI-TAF (Gr: writing on a tomb) A literary work suitable to be inscribed on a monument or tombstone what indicates the salient facts or characteristics of the deceased. A shortened form of the elegy, the epitaph may be panegyric or ribald. The epitaph may be in a prose or verse form and is often related to the epigram.

epithalamium – EH-PI-THA-LA-MEUM (Gr: at the bridal chamber) A wedding song sung outside the bridal chamber on the wedding night. Different from the gamelios, or song sung at the wedding ceremony.

euphony – YOU-PHONY The quality of having pleasant, easily pronounced, or smooth-flowing sound which are free of harshness and discord. Some find "linked sweetness drawn out" as an attribute and others do not; so it is a matter of taste in defining poetical attributes.

flyting –FLY-TING A Scottish form of linked poetry in which combatants exchange insults and boasts in a highly flamboyant and exaggerated language bordering on slander and hyperbole. Can also be found in Celtic and Arabic poetry.

free verse – (Fr. vers libre) A poetry form without a structural grid based on meter, syllable count or rhyme which is now the most-used genre in contemporary poetry. It seems to complete the circle back to the earliest ‘poetry’ before the invention of these devices indicative of poetry.

fueki – F(y)OU-EE-KEY. (J: changelessness) The idea of eternal truths that poets aimed for with their ideals.

fûga – FUH-GAH J: true art. A title given to only two of the six kinds of Chinese poetry was also the art of poetry or prose. Waka was seen as a true art but not haikai no renga until Basho’s influence elevated it to this status.

fûgetsu – FUH-GET-SUE (J: wind and moon). Natural scenery which was considered the essential elements of true or fine art.

furimono – FOU-RE-MO-NO (J: falling things) A motif category to designate phenomenon which fall like rain, snow, dew, etc. The opposite of sobikimono – rising phenomenon like fog, clouds, smoke, etc.

ga – GAH (J: elegant or elegance) The highest form of any art in opposition to zoku. Art designated as ga was considered not only the highest but also official as recognized by society. At first, the term was only applied to works written in Chinese, especially waka, but later works written in Japanese also obtained this status. As suffix (renga) and prefix (gagaku) ga was also written as ka as in tanka and waka. At the time Basho was alive his work, called haikai no renga was not considered to be ga, but he worked to elevate it to this status by his use of the term fûga.

ga no uta – GAH-NO-OU-TAH (J: elegant song) The designation for congratulatory poems or auspicious poems written in praise of something or someone. A poetic topic for the ordering of poems within an anthology.

ghazal – GAZ-ZEL  A: a poem form dating back to 7th century Arabia which is still being written and sung to musical accompaniment. The traditional form is in couplets in which the end rhyme or refrain is repeated in every couplet. There is no enjambment between couplets and each one is complete in sense and syntax. Only the repeat and / or rhyme connects the non-linear associations. Originally drinking songs, the ghazal still is often witty while imparting wry philosophical opinions often on love or life. As is typical of tavern poetry, the poem is signed by the poet inserting his (most were written by men) name as part of the last couplet.

gingko – GING-KOH J: A trip or walk or outing made for the distinct purpose of being inspired for the writing of haiku. When done in a group, the haiku are spoken aloud as the participants amble along in a garden or other scenic spot.

glosa – GLOS-SAH Any poem expanding on the theme presented in the introductory stanza and usually repeating one or more lines of the opening in subsequent stanzas. Based on the Spanish form the mote, of the 14th century in which a line or short stanza, called the cabeza which set the theme of the poem. Following stanzas were built from phrases or lines of the cabeza which were often used at the ends of lines like a refrain.

gojuin - GO-JEW-EEN J: A 50-link renga.

goshû – GO-SHOE (J: later collection). A collection published posthumously. The opposite of zenshû.

gunsaku - GOO'N-SAH-KOO (J: group work) A term for poems written by a group of persons. The work can be interactive, with each one linking to another, or they can cohere around a subject (dai) which represents various viewpoints while each part can be read as a complete whole. The main difference between a gunsaku and a rensaku is that the verses in a gunsaku can stand alone. In spite of the name, it can be done by one person.

ha - HAH J: The 24-link "body" or middle part of a kasen renga. The renga is divided into three parts as was done with music. The first page and those six stanza are the jo. The last page and those six stanza are the kyu. Each has different attributes. The ha is characterized by many shifts in scene and more non-seasonal verses.

haiga - HI-GAH (painting) J: Brush and ink drawing done to accompany a handwritten haiku or hokku. It is usually a rough sketch, slightly abstract or simplified in style like a cartoon. In the current revival of interest in haiga, photographs and computer generated artwork are also used.

haigon - HI-GO'N (J: haikai words) Words not allowed in serious poetry meaning those words in foreign languages or those too vulgar for polite company. Such expressions used in haikai writing are signposts of the genre.

haijin - HI-GIN (J: a person who writes haiku or haikai) A name of honor for a haiku poet.

haikai - HI-K'EYE (J: humor, joke or unusual) A designation for humorous poems which was later used to substitute for the phrase haikai-no-renga which as become a generic word for linked poetry in this vein.

haikai-no-renga - HI-K'EYE-NO-RAY'N-GAH (J: comic renga) In Basho's time it meant vulgar, earthy renga, full of satire and puns, which was the dominant mode at that time. When Basho spoke of his work, this is what he called it.

haibun - HI-BUN (J: prose in the style of haikai) By adopting and adapting the practice of ancient diary keepers of Japan who combined prose with tanka, Basho created a new style by combining his diary accounts with his hokku. In English the term indicates a terse style of prose combined with either haiku or tanka or both or even other forms. When the subject of the work is a journey it becomes kikô (bungaku) or nikki (bungaku) although in English we do not yet make this distinction.

haikaika - HI-K-EYE-KAH or haikaika no uta. Poems grouped in the nineteenth part of the Kokinshû and considered indecorous or humorous due to deficiencies or excesses of language or conception.

haiku - HI-COO (J: a verse of haikai) Thus it originally meant a verse taken from a renga, but in this century, the word was coined by Shiki to be synonymous with hokku. From this came the idea that haiku had to have the elements of the hokku, a kigo and a kireji, but most important was the linking of images completely within the three lines without relying on connections with other elements to make a completed thought. Also it was to be uplifting, edifying, profound, and not fun. Modern poets have reverted back to writing haiku which could have been the stanza from any part of a renga.

hanja – HAN(d)-JAH J: A judge in a poetry contest.

hanka – HAN(d)-KAH (J: envoy) One or more envoys were short poems added to the end of a long poem rather like an abridged version of the poem or emphasizing the important aspect. These short poems (tan-ka) soon became the more popular form then known as waka but now called tanka.

hana no ku - HAH-NAH-NO-COO (J: flower verse) The stanzas (#17 and #35) in a traditional renga in which there must be mention of a flower. In Japanese linked verse the flower is always the cherry blossom, but in English almost any flower is acceptable.

hankasen – HAHN-KAH-SAY'N J: Half of a kasen renga or one with only eighteen stanzas.

hibiki - HE-BEE-KEY (echo) J: A term used when two stanza reflect images closely or relate in the same way.

hiraku - HE-RAH-COO J: The name for any of the stanza in a renga which have no name –those other than the hokku, ageku, etc.

hokku - HOE'K-COO (J: starting verse) The traditional name for the first stanza of a renga. As poets jotted down hokku against the day when they might be called upon to start a renga without preparation, there came to be collections of only beginning verses. Later, in this century, since Shiki, hokku were called haiku, even in Japan.

hokkuwaki – HOE-COO-WAH-KEY (J: hokku = the first stanza of a renga + waki = the second stanza of a renga) If written by one person, and containing the proper subject matter and diction it could be a tanka. If written by two persons, as in renga, it was a tan renga (short linked elegance).

hommondori- HOME-MON-DOOR-EE J: the direct borrowing or taking over of a passage from an older work more or less as it was. When done in English the section is positioned under the title and poet’s name, set aside in italics with the original author’s name. It is a method of giving homage or recognition for the inspiration for a work.

hon’i – HONE-EE (J: essential characteristic). An aesthetic principle that used convention to describe the character of certain things especially in renga writing. For example the subject of love require unrequited longing, travel had to denote the suffering. These codified versions which were gathered from previous admired literature were considered more poetic than reality.

honkadori - HOE'N-KAH-DOE-REE J: A stanza that has borrowed from literature or refers to a commonly known incident from past writings or writers. Distinct from hommondori.

hôraku – WHORE-AH-COO J: Votive poetry composed for presentation to or expressive of the wishes of the gods or of Buddha. Copies of poems were often presented to temples as offerings. Waka offerings were sometimes called hônôka.

hosomi – HOE-SO-ME (J: fineness) A literary term used for haikai no renga and haiku to denote depth of meaning with a subtlety of expressive intent. This was one of Basho’s ideals for haikai in his effort to raise it to a fine art. The lack of this intent after Basho’s death was one of the main causes for the decline in the popularity of the genre in the hands of his followers. Only when Buson revived this intent did haikai regain its quality and acceptance.

hyakuin - HE-YAH-COO-EEN (J: one hundred verses) A term for a poetic work containing that many verses or stanzas. The work could be solo or a collection of poets’ work in tanka, or later came to designate the number of links in a renga.

hyundai- HI-UN-DEE (K: modern). This adjective sets modern sijo apart from the traditional school which is stricter about keeping the syllable count.

iisute – EYE-EYE-SUE-TEA J: An adjective describing a renga with not enough links, or an irregular number, of casual production and not felt worthy of recording.

incantation – IN-CAN-TA-SHUN (L: incantore – to chant, bewitch, cast a spell) Use of a ritualistic formula spoken to produce a magical effect or to charm. Very close to prayer and surely the beginning of poetry.

ji – J-EYE (J: ground). A term used in discussing renga links to designate those which are unimpressive, but yet very necessary to act as mounting for the more impressive stanzas (mon)

jiamari - J-EYE-AH-MAR-EE (J: excess character). In a poetry based on the counting of sound units (on or kana) occasionally a poem would contain one additional unit. Sometimes this was a poetic device and sometimes simply the way the wording resulted.

jikaawase - J-EYE-AH-AH-WAH-SEE J: A poetry match with oneself. A poet would set themes and topics to compose a set of poems often giving them the authorship of fictional poets’ names. These poems were divided into rival groups of "left" and "right". Then the poet would compare, declare and defend the matched poems. This was a way of instruction as well as a method of showing ones understanding of poetry and readiness to judge contests.

jingle – JING-GULL (Medieval English: gyngle) Any verse that pleases the ear by a catchy rhythm and pronounced sound repetition which is often at the expense of sense such as eeny, meeny, miny mo. The tinny effect of excessive alliteration has made this mainstay of commercial advertising a pejorative term among poets.

jo – JOE (J: preface) The introductory part of a collection of poetry or of music. The jo tends to be elevated or smooth. Jo-ha-kyû refers to the development pattern of music which was later adopted for the pacing of renga. The ha = breaking, section was the largest and longest, was agitated and filled with variety. The kyû was climatic with a rush to end in poise and rest.

joryû bungaku – JOE-REW BUN-GAH-COO (J: literature by women) Though much of Japan’s greatest literature was (and is) written by women, the term is still sometime used as dismissive or pejorative.

kaishi - KAY-EE-SHE (J: pocket paper) Small, slim sheets of paper used for writing poems. Implies why one should always have them available and their alternate purpose. Achoo! kaishi! Also see shikishi.

kakekotoba - KAH-KAY-KOH-TOE-BAH (J: pivot word) The use of words which have double meanings. In Japanese this is very easy because most nouns also another meaning as a verb. Examples in English are: leaves / to go away; sprout/ to grow up; blossom / bloom; fall / autumn etc. The knowledge and use of pivot words is paramount in the writing of tanka and very useful in renga, also.

kami no ku – CAM-ME NO COO (J: upper stanza) In tanka, the beginning three parts containing 5/7/5 sound units. Distinct from the lower stanza of 7/7 units called the shimo no ku.

kana – KAH-NAH J: phonic syllabary. Originally the Japanese used Chinese ideograms or characters (kanji) for their own writing. However since they pronounced words differently than the Chinese, it became necessary to have a system of writing that indicated the sounds of the words and not the drawn symbols. For this they devised two systems: one called kana, which is more angular and is used for foreign words, telegrams, for particles, and certain emphasis. Women who were not educated in Chinese writing wrote in kana, and thus their work was sometimes called kanabun or onnade. When a Japanese person is counting the sound units to get the proper five or seven on, they are counting the kana.

kanji – CAN-GEE J: Chinese written characters.

kanshi – CAN-SHE (J: Chinese poem). A Japanese poem written in Chinese characters instead of Japanese. Prose written in Chinese by a Japanese is called kambun = Chinese composition.

kaori - KAH-OH-REE (J: scent or fragrance) A term for the relationship between stanzas in which both evoke the same feeling with very different images. Both a puppy lost in the rain and a newly divorced man might have kaori.

karumi - KAH-RUE-ME (lightness) The quality in writing that Basho encouraged, especially in his later years. Here it meant the beauty of ordinary things spoken of in a simple way. This was the end of puns and word play which was so dear to the hearts of renga writers. Kikaku, his most brilliant student, left him at this point, feeling that karumi lacked challenge and sparkle. People still argue about the concept three hundred years later.

karuta - KAH-REW-TAH J: Any of a number of card games which involve the matching of one element with another – somewhat in the manner of our Old Maid. The most famous one involves matching the two sections of one hundred famous tanka called Hyakuin Isshu which were collected by the famous Fujiwara Teika in the thirteenth century as a model for teaching tanka. The game is associated with New Year’s activities but is played at all times of the year. Usually the group is divided into two teams which compete to identify and find the completing part of the poem.

kasen - KAH-SAY'N (J: immortal poets or sages Meaning the 36 immortal poets of Japan until Basho took the phrase and concept to shorten the hyakuin or hundred verse renga. Kasen is now a term for the 36-verse renga written in the traditional style with moon and flower verses as designed by Basho.

katauta – KAH-TAH-OU-TAH (J: side poem). An early verse form used in the Man’yoshû (an anthology of poetry) consisting of three parts with 5/7/7 sound units. When this form was doubled, it was called the sedôka.

kidai - KEY-DAY'EE (J: season topic) A system that designates a season by agreement among poets which makes the full moon a sign of autumn. As this path is full of potholes and debates, there are dictionaries called saijiki which are devoted to the sport and explain little with many words.

kigo - KEY-GO (J: seasonal word) Nouns which imply the season because they have been traditionally associated with certain times of the year in Japanese literature and/or real life. There are winter birds and summer plants, spring activities and winter skies, fall trees and summer holidays and the list goes on and on. Is a red balloon an indication of summer or fall?

kireji - KEY-RAY-GEE (J: cutting character) A form of verbal punctuation used to divide Japanese poetry which not only showed the duration of the pause, but also gave emotional signals. Some stood alone and others were used as suffixes. Examples are:
ka – emphasis or sometimes a question.
kana – expressing wonder at a scene, event or object.
-keri – a verb suffix in the past perfect tense expressing exclamation.
-shi – adjective suffix to end a clause – much like a comma.
ya – emphasis with the punctuation of a semi-colon, but also can give the sense of suspension as with the use of an ellipsis.

kotoba – KOH-TOE-BAH (J: words, diction, subject matter) The actual words used in poetry as opposed to the feelings the words evoke. In haiga, this refers to the written words placed next to the artwork.

kouta – KOH-OU-TA (J: little song) A broad classification for several varieties of short songs from traditional to popular which is most often associated with the popular songs made popular in the pleasure quarters of Edo (old Tokyo) where they were often composed and sung by geisha to the accompaniment of the shamisen.

kyoka - KEY' YOE-KAH (J: a mad poem) The tone and feel of  a limerick written in tanka form and sometimes just as bawdy. Often the subject is about poets or the writing of poems which makes fun of both. Also means tanka using an excessive amount of wordplays as does the daughter of Genji’s rival who was raised in the provinces.

ku - COO (J: verse) Verse or stanza or link.

kuzari - COO-ZAH-REE (J: suspension) The lapse of a number of stanzas between the use of certain words. For example, there should be eight stanza between the use of "dream". And "insects" should be used only once in 100 verses.

language poetry – An American poetry style that emerged in the 1970s that deliberately flattened tonal register with the extensive use of non-sequitur. This is often accomplished by radical condensation into fragment and the displacement of linguistic elements. Thus, language poetry is also called deconstructionism. The development of language poetry has opened the door to greater understanding and use of the haiku.

light verse – A collective term for a wide variety of verse including, folk poetry, nonsense verse, kitsch, ribald and comic poetry. The idea of ‘light’ as requiring little mental activity, amusing, entertaining has been expanded to funny or witty. The limerick is probably the oldest form of light verse which has been joined by the clerihew and the senryu. In recent years the term has come to be used to indicate ‘bad verse’ or trivial or unimportant poetry written in a verse form.

limerick – LIMB-RICK The limerick is the only English stanza form used exclusively for light verse. It was popularized by Edward Lear (1846) but the history of the form remains in doubt. Some claim it came from the Irish town of Limerick due to soldiers bringing home an old French form and others find a connection with nursery rhymes. The form is very exacting with a rhyme scheme of aabba and strict structure of stresses and weak syllables. The main rhyme is often based on the name of a location – "There was an old man from Lymes". The verse usually ends with wit or some indecency.

lyric – LEER-RICK (Gr: lyra – a musical instrument) Lyric is one of the three general categories of poetic literature. The other two being narrative or epic and dramatic. Thus, the lyric most closely retains its connection to music and song even though not all lyrical work is made to be sung. The earliest lyrics were composed in Sumer (modern Iraq) during the times of 2300 – 2000 B.C. as proverbs, hymns, lamentations, incantations, and lovesongs.

madih – MAH-DIE A: the panegyric or final portion of the qasida in which the poet liberally praises the bringer of his victory be it his mount, his lover, Allah, the present ruler or person who paid to have the poem written.

maeku - MAH'EE-COO (J: previous verse) The preceding stanza. The one to which another author is expected to add a verse.

maekuzuki - MAH'EE-COO-ZOO-KEY (J: joining to the previous verse) A game resulting from renga writing in which one person, usually a poet, writes a maeku and someone (or each member of a group) responds with a tsukeku. It can be a contest with the poet then choosing a winner. A maeku plus a tsukeku is a tan renga, the shortest possible kind. The maekuzuki is a sadly neglected practice at the moment, but still it has great possibilities for the enjoyment of linkage on a competitive basis.

matla – MAT-LAH (A: opening couplet) The first stanza of a ghazal which sets the scheme of the rhyme (qafia) or repeat /refrain (radif) by having the word in both lines of the couplet. In following couplets the repeated word or phrase is only used once and usually at the end of the second line – aa, ba, ca.

mankuawase - MAH'N-COO-AH-WAH-SAY (J: collected verses) An anthology of the winning tsukeku (verses) written in a maekuzuki.

Man’yoshû - MAN-YO-SHOE (J: collection of ten thousand leaves.) The title of the first anthology of Japanese poetry was considered to be an anthology of anthologies (most of the rest which are now lost). Compiled in the seventh and eighth centuries (the last dated poem was 759) this work of over 400 poets contains 4,517 poems in twenty ‘books’, or more accurately – scrolls.

metaphor – MET-A-FOUR (Gr: transference) A trope or figurative expression in which a word or expression is shifted from its normal usage to a context where it evokes new meanings. It invokes a transaction between words and things. The metaphor is the most significant feature of poetic style. The function of metaphors is aesthetic (to make expression more vivid) and pragmatic (conveying meaning concisely, cognitive (providing meaning to things that have no literal name or rendering complex abstractions through easily understood concrete analogies.

meter – MEET-HER (Gr: metron – measure) The oldest and most important device of verse form which builds on the repeat of a feature of language such as stress, pitch, or length into a definable pattern. The size and shape of the units (feet, measures, metra, coda) vary from verse form to form but most are either binary or ternery. The first function of meter is to distinguish written discourse from versified text. The aesthetic function results in a test of the author’s skill to make good sense and keep within the principle of order.


michi – ME-CHEE (J: way or path) Used as way, road or path in the physical sense but also in the spiritual realm as representing the way to enlightenment. In the thirteenth century there were those who believed that enlightenment was possible by devout exercise of one’s own calling or profession. Thus, there came to be uta no michi (the way of poetry) for tanka writers and Tsukuba no michi, the way for renga writers.

mikasazuke - ME-KAH-SAH-ZOO-KEY J: A kind of maekuzuke in which three people collaborated to write the three parts of a 5 / 7 / 5 unit maeku.

mondo – MON-DOE J: question and answer dialogue. An ancient teaching device used in sedôka, occasionally in maekuzuke and less often, in renga.

moonhak - (K: literature) This is the adjective given to designate classical sijo from modern or non-traditional sijo.

mon – MON (J: pattern) The designation of a verse in a renga that stood out from the links around it. The opposite of ji.

mushin - MOO-SHE'N (J: without heart) The term as used in renga means the use of images without classical beauty. The opposite is ushin. Torn black lace tights, neon green sculpture nails and a mouthful of "rad" and "max" has mushin. The naked country lass surprised while washing her hair in a cold mountain stream has ushin.

nagauta –NAH-GAH-OU-TAH (J: long poem) Another name for the chôka which was composed of lines with five or seven sound units repeated until the final couplet which was composed of seven /seven units.

nasib – NAH-SIB A: the prelude to the qasida which is usually an erotic accounting of what the poet has lost as he weeps over the cruelty of his fate. The section is designed to attract and hold the listeners’ hearts and minds for the rest of the story.

nazem – NAY-ZEM (A: versifier) One who writes verse in the traditional form with traditionally acceptable content.

nikki (bungaku) – KNEE-KEY (J: journey (literature)). Journals or diaries of a journey or even stories of a journey. The earliest existing example, Tosa Nikki by Tsurayuki, combined waka with prose, and Basho combined haikai or hokku with his prose in Oku no Hosomichi which he called michi no nikki (diaries of the road).

objective – OB-JECK-TIVE A term used to designate poetry primarily concerned with concrete objects as they are in opposition to subjective poetry which works with ideas, abstracts, philosophies and feelings. Haiku is objective. Sonnets and tanka are subjective.

Objectivism A school of American poetry of the 1930s which sprang up as result of T.S. Eliot Ezra Pound’s earlier search for a language free of Victorian moralizing and philosophizing by concentrating on things instead of feelings and ideas as poetic motifs.

occasional verse – OH-CAA-SHUN-AL VERSE Poetry written for a public or social occasion. However, some persons say all verse is the result of an occasion, either public or private. The Japanese tanka is considered to be highly occasional in both senses of the word – an idea supported by the oft-used heading which explains the event for which the poem was written.

onji - OH'N-GEE (J: sound symbol) - An archaic Japanese word American haiku writers were misinformed about. For years we used the word which no one in Japan recognized! We have learned our lesson and now refer to the things the Japanese count on their fingers when writing poetry  simply as 'sound units' because the word they use is on which is simply too confusing with English. The word Tokyo has three Japanese sound units: to- k-yo so you see these are not syllables – another bit of misinformation.

Okukazu – OH-COO-KAH-ZOO J: The title of a haikai collection of 1,600 stanzas composed by Ihara Saikaku in twenty-four hours in May 1677. Thereafter, this was the name for the feat performed by anyone else.

onnade – ON-NAD-DEH J: female hand. Either the actual handwriting of a woman or works written by women in the kana syllabary.

oriku - OH-REE-COO J: Tanka or haikai with the given topic (dai) concealed in an acrostic, charades, or conundrum. The trick was to guess the connection between the topic and the poem.

otokode – OH-TOE-KOH-DEH (J: men’s hand) Actual handwriting done by a male, but also the more general term for works written by men and more particularly, writing with a high proportion of Chinese characters.

oxymoron – OX-EE-MORE-ON Two words which each make sense but combined indicate something unobtainable or satirical. The classic example is "military intelligence".

panegyric – PAN-EH-JI-RIC (Gr: panegyrikos) An oration delivered at one of the Greek festivals, but the term now covers a speech or poem in praise of someone or some event. Much of oral poetry was in praise of a god, a hero, a military victory or even a wedding. Many of the waka written by members of the imperial court of Japan were panegyric.

paradox – PAIR-A-DOCKS A statement that unties seemingly contradictory ideas but which upon closer examination proves to have an unexpected meaning and truth. An example: "The longest way round is the shortest way home". It is one of the techniques of haiku. Related to oxymoron.

parallelism – PAIR-AH-LEL-ISM (Gr: side by side) The repetition of identical or very similar syntactic patterns in adjacent phrases, clauses or sentences. The variety of grammatical domains with which a parallel can work are enormous – more available than rhymes which may explain why parallelism was one of the earliest poetic devices. Thus, in English we find parallel poetry in the Proverbs, and Psalms of the Old Testament. Instead of only using a grammatical parallel, Japanese poetry also uses a parallel between the realm of nature and that of human nature to associate, compare or contrast.

pathos – PAH-TOES (Gr: suffering or passion that causes suffering) Evoking an audience’s emotions in order to use them for persuasion or for a cathartic effect. Certain words carry greater emotional impact than others, but with overuse can render them less effective. Early English haiku writers overused the word ‘old’ in an attempt to gain the quality called sabi for the work.

piyyut – PEA-UTE (rhymes with pea root) Plural: piyyutim; from the Greek poihthj; Heb: a poetry form that emerged in the 4th century in Palestine intended to embellish and supplement the prose prayers or any other religious ceremony. The piyyut were determined by liturgical contexts and always intended to be recited in public in a lofty style and a characteristic rhythms and the use of parallelism. Only later was the strophic form was based on rhymes and the addition of he author’s name, in acrostic or signal in the piyyut was an important formal feature which surely influenced the same use in the ghazal.

poet – POH-ET (Gr: poiein - to make; piortes – maker L: poeta) The definition - a person who writes poetry is surely far too simple. Where does the person stop and the poet begin? And whatever is written – is it poetry, verse or worse? Thus, is a poet one who has his or her work recognized as poetry? Or is this a term the self must decide on and take?

poetry – POH-EH-TREE (L: poema, poetria) Bound speech that convey a heightened form of perception, experience, meaning or consciousness. Another definition is: using the best words to say the best things in the best way. Until the last century, form was an absolute aspect of poetry, but with language poetry and prose poetry this facet has fallen away.

prose poem –P-ROSE POH-EM This oxymoron ends the either / or aspect of writing lines that cross the page to wrap around into the following space or lines ending mid-space to give a ragged right margin to the printed page. While it is thought to be a modern form, dating from the middle of the 1800s and French poetry as done by Baudelaire, it is actually found in Biblical texts and oral traditions of classical and folk lyrics. Depending on how one views the travel diaries of the Japanese, even the prose parts can be seen as poetry.

qafia – QUAH-FEE-AH (A: rhyme) In discussions of the ghazal, this term is used when speaking of the traditional form as one of the identifying aspects.

qasida – QUA-SIGH-DAH A: A mono-rhymed lyric poem common to the Arabian, Persian, Turkish, Pasto and Urdo languages. The couplet patterns are aa, ba, ca. The poems of up to one hundred lines are divided into three parts. The erotic prelude (nasib), the journey (rahil) and the ode or praise (madih). The form, dating back to the 8th or 9th centuries was later superseded by the ghazal.

radif – RAH-DEEF (A: repeat or refrain) Sometimes the aspect of the qafia is not a rhyme pattern but is based on the repeating of a word or similar word or even a phrase. Then it is referred to as the radif and not the qafia or rhyme.

quatrain – QUAH-TRAIN A stanza of four lines is the most common stanza form in European literature. The most popular rhyming schemes are abab and abba. Though the quatrain is usually multiplied into sequences, when the quatrain stands alone it is often called an epigram.

rahil – RAH-ILL (A: desert journey) The middle part of a qasida that describes the poet’s journey, and usually his mount in great detail, in the resolution of his great unhappiness which is either to regain a lost love or vanquish an enemy.

renga - RAY'N-GAH (J: linked elegance) The Japanese poetry form in which a three-line stanza of 5-7-5 on are linked to a two-line of 7-7 on, usually written by two or more persons. Renga baffle Westerners because as a poetry form it lacks a narrative, actual time sequence, and doesn't seem to be doing anything except jumping all over the place. The secret is the linking between images within a stanza and in the empty places between the stanzas.

rengashi – REIN-GAH-SHE (J: renga master) A title not bestowed by any institution but adopted by a person wishing to instruct others in the art of renga.

rensaku – REIN-SAH-COO (J: linked work) A sequence of haiku or tanka in which the individual stanzas do not function independently. Also see gunsaku.

rengaawase RAY'N-GAH-AH-WAH-SAY J: A renga contest.

renku RAY'N-COO (J: ren = linked  ku = verse) A term used to describe Chinese linked verses was taken on in the 1740s in Japan to cause confusion and the disrupt the lineage of renga from its historical beginning. Some Americans mistakenly use the term in place of renga, which is what Basho called his work. Renku can also mean inferior renga-type poems written in Japanese since Basho's death. The English term "linked verse" however, means an experimental or modern renga-influenced work usually written by poets.

rensaku - RAY'N-SAH-COO (J: linked work) A sequence of haiku or tanka wherein each stanza is dependent upon the previous one for meaning.

rhyme- RIME (L: rithmus, rhythus rhythm; Old English: rime) A major poetic device based on the shared sound combined with differences. Time – rhyme. From the Latin, you can see that originally the sense of rhythm (or meter) was the definitive device, but over time the meaning of rhyme separated itself from rhythm. Being such an important part of poetry, many kinds of rhyme and uses of the rhyme have developed. Alliteration (bad boy); assonance (back / rat); consonance (back / neck); reverse (back / bat); pararhyme (back / buck) strict (back / rack); rich rhyme (bat –as the wooden cylinder / bat – a fly creature).The use of letters such as abab indicate a rhyme scheme in which the final words of the first and third and second and fourth lines share a difference and a similarity – often in sound.

rhythm – RI(d)-THUM (Gr: rheo – to flow; rhythmos) Cadence or musical quality based on repeats in a discernable pattern or an order in movement. Meter is the structure but rhythm is the movement and one cannot have one without the other.

rizoku – RYE-ZOH-COO (J: abstain from the low) – the haikai maxim of Yosa Buson.

rubaiyat – RUBY-YAT (A: quatrain) The four-line poetry form in which Edward Fitzgerald translated the poems of Omar Khayyam.

ryogin - RE-YOE-GIN J: A renga written by two authors.

saijiki – SIGH-GEE-KEY (J: seasonal index) Now called a kiyose (KEY-YOH-SEE). A listing of subjects to be used in haikai, haiku or renga according to designated times of the year. Under the five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter and New Year’s, are seven categories: seasonal moods, celestial, terrestrial, holidays or observances, livelihood or human affairs, plants, animals.

sabi - SAH-BEE (J: aged/loneliness) A quality of images used in poetry that expresses something aged or weathered with a hint of sadness because of being abandoned. A split-rail fence sagging with overgrown vines has sabi; a freshly painted picket fence does not.

sangin - SAH'N-GIN J: A renga written by three authors.

see’er – SEER (A: poet) A truly creative artist whose form and content unify to project a unique vision.

sedoka - SAY-DOE-KAH (J: repeat head poem) An old verse form used in the 7th century consisting of matching stanza of 5/7/7 units, using a question and answer method to reveal riddles. This form is sometimes considered the forerunner of renga.

senku - SAY'N-COO J: A 1,000 link renga. In practice, it is composed of ten hyakuin or hundred-link renga in one poem.

senryu - SEND-JEW-RUE (J: river willow) The pen name of the most famous poet who conducted maekuzuki (linking contests) has been given to this genre in his dubious honor. Because haiku and senryu are written much alike, often on the same subjects and usually by the same authors, great controversies have ensued over which is what. For a time, in America, senryu were considered to be faulty haiku. Actually, if one must differentiate, the senryu form is satiric, concerned with poking fun at human behavior as opposed to the profound, sublime world of nature where haiku shine. In Japan the distinction is easier to find because all of their haiku contain a season word - kigo and senryu do not. Haiku are published with the author's name and senryu are not - which tells much about the esteem of senryu.

septet - SEP-TET (It: sepette; Fr. septain) A seven-line stanza popular with the troubadours of Europe often with a rhyme scheme of ababcc.

sestet – SIS-TET (It: sestette) The last six lines of a sonnet which in English often has the rhyme scheme of efefgg.

sestina –SIS-TEA-NAH (It: sistine, sesta rima) A highly complicated verseform practiced by troubadours which is composed of six stanzas each containing six lines often with a three-line envoy. Instead of rhyme, the use of repeated words from the end lines of the beginning stanza are used in progressively reversed patterns. If the numbers 1 –6 represent the six end words of the first stanza, the sistina uses the following pattern.
stanza 1: 123456
stanza 2: 615243
stanza 3: 364125
stanza 4: 532614
stanza 5: 451326
stanza 6: 246531
envoy: 531 or 135

shahed SHAH-HEED (A: witness) When using Hāfez’s poetry as divination, one seeks assurance for the correctness of the answer by also reading a second or ‘witness’ verse for verification.

sharefû SHAH-REH-FOO (J: witty style) The name of the school and style of haikai writing established by Basho’s student Kikaku after Basho’s death. Lively wit with an impressive technique, which was indicative of Kikaku himself, led to the excesses which brought haikai out of the popularity which Basho had gained for the form.

shamisen SAH-ME-SEN J: A three-stringed banjo-like instrument either plucked with the fingers or a plectrum – a paddle-shaped piece of ivory.

shibumi - SHE-BOO-ME (J: acerbic) A description of poetry typifying subdued, classical, or astringent images. Think of cracked whole wheat flour muffins without oil, eggs, preservatives, additives or coloring as compared to oven-ready frozen croissants.

shisenshû – SHE-SHE-SHOE (J: poetic anthology) The term best approaches the western idea of an anthology because this was an anthology not decreed into existence by imperial command as was the chokusenshû. Also the briefer term shû is also used but is also dropped from many titles.

shikimoku – SHE-KEY-MOE-COO J: rules or a rule book used for renga or haikai writing.

shikishi – SHE-KEY-SHE (J: square paper). Square sheets of heavier paper kept for writing and painting.

shimo no ku – SHE-MO NO COO (J: lower stanza) In tanka, the proper name for the final two sets of 7/7 sound units.

shinku - SHE'N-COO (J: closely related) Two stanzas that are related by images that fit closely together. As opposed to soku.

shiori - SHE-OH-REE (J: bent/withered) A delicate, pathetic quality for an image.

shôfû (or shôfu) – SHOW-FU (J: right style) a shortened name for Basho’s style of writing and also the name of his school in his later years.

Shomon - SHOW-MOAN J: The proper name of Basho's school of renga which was located where he was no matter where he was. His competitor was the Danrin school. Basho's teaching is considered to emphasize the profound, reverent way of relating to the world while still having humor and certain oddities.

shoori – SHOW-OH-REH J: the first of four sheets upon which a hundred-link renga was written (on both sides). The second sheet was called ni no ori (KNEE NO OR-REE), the third was the san no ori (SAN NO OR-REE) and the nagori no ori (NAH-GOR-REE NO OR-REE). The two sheets used for a kasen renga were called shoori and nagori no ori.

shûka – SHOE-KAH J: An outstanding waka, worthy of being a model for emulation.

sijo – SEE-JOE (K: song). Originally the term referred to the music written for a type of short poem, which was called the tang-ka. Now sijo refers to the poetry form composed of 44 – 46 sound units written in a rhythmic pattern over three long (14 – 15 syllables) or six short lines of six or seven syllables. The form is thus very lyrical, melodic and uses all the regular poetry techniques. Like the Japanese tanka, one of the indications of the sijo is the ‘twist’ or turn near the end of the poem. Subject matter was previously humor or love or both as sex, but now is open to all themes.

simile – SIM-ILL-LEE A figure of speech defined as an explicit comparison using "like" or "as" to reveal an unexpected likeness between two seemingly disparate things. The simile has been called the oldest readily identifiable poetic artifice in European literature as well as "a past-time of very low order" by William Carlos Williams.

sobikimono – SO-BEE-KEY-MO-NO (J: rising things) Phenomenon like fog, clouds, smoke, etc. as a classification of subjects for poetry. Rising things were contrasted with falling things like rain, snow and dew.

soku - SO-COO (J: distantly related verse) Two links which made you wonder if the authors were working on the same renga.

song – SAW-NG A verbal utterance combining music with poetry for an expression of emotion. Yet not all poems of capable being songs, and all songs do not contain poetry.

sonnet – SAW-NET (It: sonetto – little sound or song) A fourteen-line poem written in meter patterns and rhyme schemes depending on whether the sonnet is Italian, French or English. The most famous poet of the English sonnet was William Shakespeare who used the rhyme pattern of abab cdcd efef gg. The first eight lines, often called the octaves, were found in 1910, to be favored with a abba abba rhyme scheme. Due to difficulties in rhyming in English, the dropping of the rhyme scheme has been the greatest deviation followed by the lack of continued or constant meter giving a variety of line lengths. Still the sonnet has stood in over eight centuries in European literature where verse forms come and go rather rapidly.

sono mama - SO-NO MA-MA (J: as it is) To present an image without flourishes or embellishment.

stanza – STAN-ZAH The stanza is an established portion of poetry often determined by a repeating end-line rhyme scheme or metrical structure.

stress – see accent

syllabic verse – SILL-AH-BEAK VERS The metrical structure of English poetry is built most often on stresses and not syllables. Thus, when imitating the poetry of a language without stresses, such as Japanese, which is built on a rigid sound unit frame, the English form of the genre makes a drastic change. This cross-over is even more difficult when one finds stated in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: "But it is very doubtful that verse lines regulated by nothing more than identity of numbers of syllables would be perceived by auditors as verse. . ."

synecdoche – SIN-NECK-DOUGH-SHE (Gr: "understanding one thing with another) A figure of speech that is formed by a part of the phrase which is substituted for the whole phrase. Example: "hired hands" for the phrase "the persons hired to do work with their hands".

syntax – SIN-TAX The placement of words in an arbitrary but conventional sequence. There is the colloquial syntax of the language as it is spoken and poetic syntax resulting from imitation of other poetry or in an effort to bring the rhyming words to a definite part of the line.

tabi no uta – TAH-BE NO OU-TAH (J: travel poem, poems or poetry). This was also a classification for renga subjects.

tang-ka – TONG-KAH (K: poem part). This was formerly the correct term for the lyrics or words of a sijo but the term has been discontinued in favor of sijo – a term that is also used in English to designate this style of poetry.

tanka - TAH'N-KAH (J: short poem) Consisting of 31 on in five units of 5-7-5-7-7, this lyrical form has existed since earliest recorded Japanese literature. Along the way it has also been called uta or waka. In many ways it is like the first two stanza of a renga or is a tan renga written by one person. For writers who find haiku too plain and lacking in emotion, the tanka is a great way to express feelings and let your love live. The trick is to not sound sentimental and this is usually done by anchoring the thought in the reality of the natural world.

tan renga - TAH'N-RAY'N-GAH (J: short linked elegance) A renga consisting of only two linked stanzas of 5-7-5 and 7-7, but written by two people. In English the lines may be of any length but the form is best displayed if they are short /long / short and long / long.

tenja – TEN-JAH J: A judge in a poetry contest.

tercet – TAIR-SET A verse unit of three lines. Usually it is rhymed but in the case of the haiku it is not.

tsukeai - T'SUE-KAY-AH-EE (J: joining together) Linking of verses or linked verses or a renga or a sequence.

tsukeku - T'SUE-KAY-COO (J: linked verse) The second stanza or the one which is linked.

tsukinami – T’SUE-KEY-NAHM-ME J: A haikai association formed for the purpose of meeting monthly and to publish poetry. It flourished in the early 1800s and became the basis for haiku clubs and societies now so prevalent in Japan.

tsuki no ku - T'SUE-KAY-NO-COO (J: moon verse) In the kasen renga this feature occurs at links #5, #14, #27 - if everyone is paying attention. It is snazzy to shift this link forward by one stanza when writing of an 'early' moon or the opposite if someone realizes the moon is missing.

ushin – (y)OU-SHE'N (J: with heart) - See mushin.

uta – (y)OU-TAH (J: song). This was the earliest Japanese word for poetry. Later, as greater designation was made, the term has come to mean song. Occasionally you will find someone who uses the word interchangeably with waka and or tanka.

utagaki – (y)OU-TAH-GAH-KEY (J: poetic exchange) In very old times this was a kind of mating game. Young men and women gathered, often in the woods or on mountains, to exchange, invite and reject each other’s poetry and then, sexual favors. Later the term came to mean an exchange in which the mating was fictional.

utai – (y)OU-TAH-EE (J: chanting) A term used when poetry is chanted in rhythmic recitation.

utsuri – (y)OU-T'SUE-REE (J: reflection) The relationship between renga stanza where there is a sense of movement or transference.

wabi - WAH-BEE (J: poverty) Beauty judged to be the result of living simply. Frayed and faded Levis have the wabi that bleached designer jeans can never achieve.

waka - WAH-KAH (J: poetry) The ancient term for tanka that is still used for imperial court ceremonies which designates Japanese poetry as opposed to foreign poetry forms. The other term is Yamatouta (Japanese poetry) from the old title for Japan - Yamato. Most Japanese use the term tanka for contemporary work and reserve the word waka for poetry or the ancient poems in the 5/7/5/7/7 form.

wakan renku- WAH-KAH REN-COO (J: linked Japanese and Chinese poetry) In this, Chinese verses were linked to Japanese verses and vice versa to make a tan renga (if done by two persons).

wakiku - WAH-KAH-COO (J: side verse) The official name for the second link in a renga. Sometimes shorted to waki.

yongin - YOEN-GIN J: A four-partner renga.

yoyoshi - YOE-YOE-SHE J: A 44-stanza renga.

yugen - YOU-GAY'N (J: mystery) A word describing poetry which is so mysterious that many volumes have been written to explain it. One could say a woman's face half-hidden behind a fan has yugen. The same face half-covered with pink goo while getting a facial, however,  does not.

zappai – ZAP-PAH-EE (J: miscellaneous, irregular or low haikai) Often used as another term for senryu. Matsuo Basho regarded these amusements with contempt. They were not worthy of the true art of haikai but merely something "that a peasant could enjoy, hoe in hand."

zo – ZOH (J: miscellaneous) A classification for renga links indicating those that had no seasonal topic (dai). These links were less esteemed than those with seasonal references which were then below those mentioning flowers or the moon.

zoku – ZOH-COO (J: common, low verses) Another term for works that did not measure up as true art of haikai due to inappropriate subject matter, audience or diction. Naturally, with hindsight, some zoku works were late later elevated by the addition of the ga prefix so they ended with the confusing designation of ga-zoku. Still, these two concepts are important to understanding Japanese literature because they separate the various genres and are not designations of worth within the form. Thus, a waka, which was almost above true art, retained this status no matter how poorly written a poem was with stereotypes and clichés.

zuiga - ZOO-EE-GAH J: The extra 50 stanza composed on the 5th day of writing a senku.

zuihitsu – ZOO-HIT-SUE (J: following the brush) A style of writing that was loose, impulsive, and casual. In concept much like the essay or ‘attempt’ though often pursued in a serious manner and very congenial to the Japanese.


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