Selected by Dan Clendenin

Advent Tanka by Charles Munger, Jr.

Tanka (“short poem”) is one of the oldest (seventh century) forms of poetry in Japan. Excluding the title, it has 31 syllables in a 5–7–5–7–7 pattern.

Shepherds

Rough miles by starlight
A dozen empty stables
Then we heard a cry.
The man would have barred the door,
But the girl — she believed us.

The day after

Frankincense and myrrh
For her priest and sacrifice
Mary took in flight.
The poisoned gift Herod found
Abandoned in the manger.

The Magi return

Show us this new star!
It can no longer be seen.
Show us then your king!
Our word to Herod brought death.
And your miracle? A dream.

Tannenbaum

Green life cut by blade,
Limbs outstretched and gemmed with red,
Needle crown so high:
Bless with Advent gift this child —
May he one day know its price.

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