Millikin University Student Project

Seven: A Tanka Sequence

by

Ryan Casey

Ryan Casey graduated with a B.A. in literature.After graduating in May, 2000, he moved to Japan where he is teaching conversational English and literature.

Ryan's haibun Ryan's tanka essay

seven

a series of tanka by ryan casey
including text from Wlliam Shakespeare's as you like it

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. 

At first the infant
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

                            feeling your
                            infant hand
                            grasping my finger—
                            will you, too, lose
                            that sureness

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel.
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.

                            a dog's bark
                            through wind and snow—
                            my son's face against the window
                            expecting Mindy
                            buried two months

And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.

                            at the piano,
                            an etude—
                            I play for you
                            and there you sit
                            reading a book

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden, and quick in quarrel . . .

                            first day teaching—
                            entering the classroom,
                            I feel them size me up
                            Somehow, the hidden tattoo
                            Makes me feel brave

And then the justice
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut . . .

                            in the confessional
                            the priest's
                            chuckling
                            "God help us all
                              if that's a sin"

 The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon . . .

                            Thanksgiving dinner,
                            the youngest's voice shaking—
                            the family circle
                            tightens around
                            grandpa's hospital bed

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

                            good Friday
                            he gently turns
                            his wife's wheel chair
                            her dull eyes follow
                            the processing cross


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2001, Dr. Randy Brooks• Millikin University
last updated 8/16/01 • about this web site