#review The Promise, A narrative poem by Jan Miklaszewicz

They were meant to be,
he the river, she the sea,
yet fate can be cruel,
far crueller than men, and not
all promises can be kept.

Set in feudal Japan at a time of growing unrest, The Promise tells the tragic tale of a devoted husband and wife bound together and torn apart by love and duty.

My reading experience:

I am extremely unprepared for reviewing a narrative poem, but willing to give it a try, possibly because it was such an enjoyable experience. Therefore I can’t comment on its poetic form and whether it is true to the Tanka style ~ a Japanese 31-syllable poem, traditionally written as a single, unbroken line. The word tanka translates to “short song.”

My review is based more or less purely on feeling but I will start by commenting on its imagery. Both subtly romantic and powerful, conveying desire and sorrow, I found the directness of the language refreshingly easy to read.

I was struck by the vivid tones, the rise and fall between suggestion and intensity which made this such a tragically beautiful tale.

In the last moments my breath was taken away by the language of love.

I highly recommend this poem and hope that my naivety does not offend those who are skilled in this art.


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