At elementary schools in Japan, students partake in special classes to teach them the art of tanka 短歌. Tanka are short yet elegant poems consisting of five lines. Japanese children grow up appreciating the traditional art form and are used to reading and writing them on occasion.

That said, naturally the tanka poems composed by young children are idiosyncratic and unique. Twitter user Sg frail (@SixGoliath) posted his 12-year-old nephew’s poems for followers to enjoy:

"My friend found a girlfriend. Congratulations to him. Although I like her too."

His followers reacted to this poem which they considered mature for a 12-year-old boy:

  • "The last two lines changed the nuance of 'congratulations.' He has literary talent. I feel like this poem reflects my own life.”
  • “I may be wrong, but I interpreted this as the writer saying to his friend's girlfriend, "I like this person too, girl."
  • “This is so good that I bet there are similar poems in the Manyoshu or Kokinwakashu collections of poems.”
  • “I think you can write a song from this...”
  • "It's just started! Romantic dramas are exciting because of the love triangle. I strongly recommend for him to take her.”
  • "I don't think anything will change, but my nephew who can also write his honest feelings, is adorable."
  • "He doesn't say anything after "I like her." That is too cool. Usually, young children don’t write that.”
  • "It's really nice of him to say congratulations. I thought it might have been a reluctant 'congratulations,' all things considered. It’s a little painful.”
  • “Poems I wrote in elementary school: ‘I want to play games. I want to go home early. I want to hang out. Yay!’ ”

More poetic insight

Another poem written by a Japanese child recently trended on Twitter. User Sushiazarashi (@aniriesuok) posted her 9-year-old daughter’s poem:

“(Grains of corn)

I have many ancestors
Imagine, there are so many grains of corn
In the same way, I have countless ancestors

And I'm their offspring
My mom and dad are too

Therefore, offspring and ancestors will continue to multiply
Just as the number of grains becomes 50 ... 100
Then I will be the ancestor

This is my destiny as I grow up.”

It’s hard to believe this was written by someone so young. The depth of the spiritual reflection contained in the piece is truly inspiring.

Followers reacted:

  • "How is your daughter so talented? What kind of gifted education did she receive?”
  • “She has a great talent!! This insight doesn't come easily, right? I want her autograph before she becomes famous.”
  • “This was written by a child? It's absolutely wonderful! She is in touch with the chain of life and vitality that is tightly packed in each grain of corn. I hope she grows up with eyes that can look at the world like this...!”
  • “It’s so deep.”
  • “Is this a philosophy? It's amazing to read what she sees in each grain of corn!! It's wonderful. I hope she continues to grow up like this. I have to emulate the strength she shows when she says, ‘This is my destiny as I grow up.”

Indeed, these young writers are gifted poets in the making. Hopefully, they will preserve their talent as they continue to grow and mature.

By - Luke Mahoney.