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Deborah Guzzi travels for inspiration: China, Nepal [during the civil war], Japan, Egypt [two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’], and most recently Peru. First published at the age of sixteen, she writes articles for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. Her poetry has been accepted in the Literary Journals of Western CT. University, Inclement Magazine, Pyrokinections, Jellyfish Whispers, Grey Wolf’s Summer Legends Anthology, The Germ, Wilderness Literary Review, The Anthology Sweet Dreams & Night Terrors, Bitterzoet Magazine, haiku journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Bella on line, The Autumn Sound, Eskimo Pie, and Ribbons, The Inwood Indiana Review, Five Poetry, Tanka Society of America Journal, and 50 haiku. She has published two illustrated volumes of poetry, The Healing Heart and Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell.


Sijo


Blog Posted:6/14/2014 3:42:00 PM
This is distilled from the Aha Poetry site & the Sejong Cultural Society Site:



The Korean Sijo predates the haiku, tanka all three of these forms grew from patterns in Chinese poetry. As in haiku the syllable count alone does not make it a Sijo. Also the syllable count is a bit random because we are going from the Korean language to English.

Sijo is traditionally composed in three lines of 14-16 syllables each, totaling between 44-46 syllables. A pause breaks each line approximately in the middle; it resembles a caesura but is not based on metrics.

My body, in its withering, may become a lovely swallow.
Under the eaves of my loved one's home I'll build my nest of twigs.
After dusk I'll fly aloft and glide gently to his side.
. . . Anonymous

Mind, I have a question for you - How is it you stay so young?
As the years pile up on my body, you too should grow old.
Oh, if I followed your lead, Mind, I would be run out of town.

Observe the 2 parts of line 1 above [so much to learn I also was unaware of this until now!]

Mind, I have a question for you [ahaHA, cesura or volta] – How is it you stay so young?
[Mind, I have] 3 [a question for you]5 – [How is it ] 3 [you stay so young] 4 = 15

*Do you see how each of the syllabic parts can stand-alone but still work together?

Because it was meant to be sung, and because of the nature Hangul (the Korean script), the structure of sijo often resembles biblical phrases. In English, it may resemble Hopkins' sprung rhythm. To achieve this phrasal quality, each long line, once divided, is divided again, into quarters averaging 3 - 5 syllables, as indicated by the slashes:

Without the pines / the wind is silent;
without wind / the pines are still;
Without you / my heart is voiceless,
without that voice / my heart is dead.
What potent power / of yang and yin
pairs us / before we sleep?

Though quarter lines are seldom divided so obviously, a discernible (even if slight) pause is usually evident. Sijo may be highly repetitive. Phrases may be repeated or echoed, a trait revealing the sijo's heritage to be sung or chanted. Meter is not vital, but that musical link should not be overlooked.

Each half-line contains 6-9 syllables; the last half of the final line is often shorter than the rest, but should contain no fewer than 5.

A drum beats in the far temple; I think it's in the clouds.
Is it above the meadow and hill, perhaps below the sky?
Something sends a veil of mist, I cannot heed the drum. anonymous

Oh that I might capture the essence of this deep midwinter night
And fold it softly into the waft of a spring-moon quilt
Then fondly uncoil it the night my beloved returns.
...Hwang Chin-i (1522-1565) most revered female Korean classical poet

The sijo may be narrative or thematic, introducing a situation or problem in line 1, development, or "turn" in line 2, and resolution in line 3. The first half of the final line employs a "twist": a surprise of meaning, sound, tone or other device. The sijo is often more lyrical, subjective and personal than haiku, and the final line can take a profound, witty, humorous or proverbial turn. Like haiku, sijo has a strong basis in nature, but, unlike that genre, it frequently employs metaphors, symbols, puns, allusions and similar word play.

You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine.
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade.
Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask?


How are you doing?? Are you enjoying the form?







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  1. Date: 6/16/2014 11:53:00 AM
    regarding syllables verses beats since we are speaking English and don't know how to formulate a Korean beat I believe we can safely stay with using the syllable counts given by The Sejong Korean cultural Society - I feel a more important distinction is that the parts in & of themselves mean something , as well as, meaning something as a whole

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  1. Date: 6/16/2014 2:46:00 AM
    Debbie: I don't get the comment that the 2nd line must be optically longer. The sijo I have read and the sejong site suggest that lines 1 and 2 are of similar beats per line. As it is to be sung, how does the optical illusion of a longer 2nd line effect the quality of the poem? Feedback will be appreciated.

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 6/16/2014 11:50:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I'm not sure where I read that Suz, but seeing the translated Korean sijo does not help us to accurately determine that we'd need to see the Korean versions in Korean
  1. Date: 6/16/2014 2:32:00 AM
    Remember the three characteristics that make the sijo unique: its basic structure; musical/rhythmic elements (hence the “beats” per lines specified!); and the twist. Bucolic (pastoral) metaphysical and cosmological themes are often explored. The conclusion of sijo is seldom epigrammatic or witty. A witty close to a sentence would have been foreign to the genius of stylised Korean diction in the great sijo periods. NB Sijo must be seen as an accentual verse form, not syllabic! NB Sijo employs a structure based on the number of stresses in a poetic line, instead of the number of syllables. Pastoral themes (rich in metaphors) and a philosophical view of the universe, are favoured.

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    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 6/16/2014 2:34:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    (From my personal notes on sijo.)
  1. Date: 6/16/2014 2:28:00 AM
    Thanks for these useful tit-bits of information, Debbie. Sijo is about beats per line (it is not a syllabic poetry form), as it is to be sung (as you have correctly observed). The contents is usually pastoral, which is why I say that it reminds me of Country & Western music (which has a set beat). This brings me to an earlier post by Craig regarding sonnets. If you are tone deaf, can you pen poetry which historically have a musical element? I think that it was Brian who said that the acid test of a poem lies in its reading aloud. PS was the sandbox for my writing - without it (this group), I would still be stuck with the legacy of all poetry must rhyme, learned at school. Love, Su (no "Z")

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  1. Date: 6/15/2014 11:13:00 AM
    Give us another Brian?

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  1. Date: 6/15/2014 11:01:00 AM
    This is how I did 3 years back with this form Debbie-IT'S NOW OR NEVER flowers of Spring,/blossom and die;/beauty of youth,/lost in a sigh;/yesterday's dreams,/ waving goodbye;/today remains../'morrows to be

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 6/15/2014 11:13:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    so nice Brain you are always way ahead of the curve BIG HUGS!
  1. Date: 6/15/2014 9:58:00 AM
    Hi Debbie.. :D im very glad for this helpful blog.. :D i actually enjoy trying everything new in writing.. :) i want to read and read but at times i really get so busy with work that i cant have enough readings.. :) and here you simplified it and you've been helpful as sponsor of contest.. :D i tried revising again mine :) weeeee..!!!! im excited to see which is which .. :D??

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  1. Date: 6/15/2014 9:57:00 AM
    Hi Debbie.. :D im very glad for this helpful blog.. :D i actually enjoy trying everything new in writing.. :) i want to read and read but at times i really get so busy with work that i cant have enough readings.. :) and here you simplified it and you've been helpful as sponsor of contest.. :D i tried revising again mine :) weeeee..!!!! im excited to see which is which .. :D??

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  1. Date: 6/14/2014 9:56:00 PM
    David I WILL WAIT FOR YOU... actually in my contests I will wait for anyone who is trying and lets me know to wait ... I can just extend the end time if needed [do not get attached to your poetry David write them and let them fly] I don't want you to rewrite that one write a another!

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  1. Date: 6/14/2014 9:54:00 PM
    Andie, do not worry over having the exact syllable count in the grouping just keep the concept in mind & line 2 should be optically longer - I'm going to try some with the 6 lines!

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  1. Date: 6/14/2014 7:20:00 PM
    Hey Deb, I'm overwhelmed but not discouraged. I do appreciate your heads up. I liked my non-sijo poem (blast that rhyming). I think I get so attached to my poems if they need an entire overhaul I start to freak out and get overwhelmed. I'm letting a couple days pass to morn and will try again. If I miss the deadline for the contest I will still write one I'd like you to evaluate. Thanks for patience for guys like me.. Night friend!

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  1. Date: 6/14/2014 6:59:00 PM
    I really like it, Debs, and I saw some very good examples myself while studying them. I think trying to get the exact syllable count for every phrase is a bit difficult. I even read some famous sijo that did not always do it. But it's nice to strive for it. BTW, I mentioned you in my blog. Go take a look see!!

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    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 6/16/2014 2:38:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Hi Andrea. I thought that you would be a natural when writing sijo - you have an ear for the musical element (via your excellent sonnets) which is difficult to learn: you either have it or you don't. As sijo is not a syllabic poetry form, might I suggest that you concentrate on the beats per line?

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