“Is that all there is?”



Jaded souls believe
Too much mayhem in the world
“Is that all there is?”
Sever the inner shackles
Awaken to simple life


This is written in Tanka (or waka) form. Tanka is an unrhymed Japanese poem consisting of five lines of 5/7/5/7/7 totaling 31 kana (Japanese units or syllables).

Tanka is generally written in two parts. The first three lines is one part, and the last two lines is the second part.

Tanka in English is relatively new, so there are not as many guidelines as with haiku and senryu.



Image Credit

© rgb for “On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea”, 2011

“Each week Carry On Tuesday will publish either a famous quotation or a line from a book, song or poem and invite you to Carry On where words stop. You may use some of the words or all of them either at the start of your piece or within the body of your work.”

This week’s inspiration prompt:
Peggy Lee’s 1969 hit song
Is that all there is?




About becca givens

Becca is an artist, poet, and animal communicator. She delights in cooking, nurturing, and sharing a rich spiritual life with others on the Path.
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26 Responses to “Is that all there is?”

  1. Pingback: “Is that all there is?” (via “On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea”) « jaded little star

  2. absolutely lovely. and resounding with an incredible amount of truth in such a sparse amount of words. i am glad i stumbled upon them.


  3. Wonderful use of both prompts. I love your Tanka…..



  4. Pat Cegan says:

    Beautiful poem and interesting comments on its form, BB. You continue to explore and I like that about you! Hugs, pat


  5. You are an animal communicator. Could you tell us more. Am new here ..Apologies for not knowing you better.


    • Becca Givens says:

      Nadira – I communicate with animals on an intuitive level. I view them as very wise energetic beings, who have much to teach us about life and ourselves. We can learn so much from the animals about how to live in harmony and balance. Although the ability to communicate intuitively usually is lost in childhood in our culture, where there is love for animals and willingness to re-learn, the ability can be revived. The rewards are mutually delightful for the human and the animal.

      Ray and I have a menagerie of “fur-children”, so I get a lot of practice! Thank you for your inquiry! 🙂


  6. Is that all there is? Five lines encapsulating the essence of how to live.The consumerist lifestyle leaves one asking”Is that all there is?” after the thrill of buying another new car or another fur coat wears off and then you go chasing another such dream , thinking …that’s going to be it. That will lift me up. But the same pattern is repeated..an initial high and then the dismal realisation that it is so transitory. Some simple joys instead help us align us with our selves and bring harmony to our existences…every breath can do that for us if we are aware… One can write reams and still not be able to get it right. You seem to have got the gist of it in five simple lines.:-)


  7. Mike Patrick says:

    Becca, you continue to expand my knowledge. A Tanka I’ve heard of, not so with the Waka. I looked into Kana a while back, but came to the conclusion that the Japanese units are not exactly the same syllables. There is additional weight given to some of the vowels and that is where I got lost. Still, the more I read the Japanese forms, the more I appreciate them. They pack so many levels of meaning is so few words/syllables/kanas. It truly is an advanced art form, and yours is lovely.


    • Becca Givens says:

      It seems true … the difference in the original Japanese units and English syllables vary and offer a perplexing challenge. It is good, many English versions have been introduced. This gives us the ability to attempt writing this interesting style, in order to get a feel for the beauty of the Japanese’s official version(s). I recently have learned of a few other short forms – I will attempt to create as my muse deems. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. 🙂


  8. Andy says:

    I have to agree in part with Jeanne Aguilar…upon second, slower reading, I have a different understanding.
    We do make life more complicated than it needs to be.

    Thanks for sharing, Becca.


  9. joseph says:

    loved it and the info on this form of poetry gr8 stuff 🙂


  10. I liked it the first time I read it…but I read it too fast…then looked at your explanation of a tanka. The second time I read, it felt like a conversation. Very Nice!


  11. trisha says:

    that is a brilliant tanka. 🙂


  12. trisha says:

    a great truth.


  13. phylor says:

    Thanks for sharing both your poem and theTanka style.


  14. A great take on the prompt Becca,
    A lot to ponder within those words…


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