Saturday, March 20, 2010

In This Time

In this time of constant war when peace seems but a distant dream,
In this time of endless hatred as waves of vengeance drown the land,
I awake with the light of dawn and pray for all living beings


Dan Gurney said...

sijo is a new form to me. Is this the first you've posted?

Jim714 said...

Hi Dan -- Yes, this is the first Sijo I've posted. The Sijo is a Korean form of poetry. I've often seen it compared to haiku, but other than the fact that both have three lines they seem almost to be opposites.

The Sijo is the longest lined form I know of. Each line is 14 to 16 syllables long, for a total count of 42 to 48 syllables. There should be a pause, caesura, in roughly the middle, and often the halves are further subdivided into units of three to five syllables. I know a little Korean and all of these kinds of strictures make sense; it fits the Korean language well. I'm not sure how much of the prosody can be transferred to English.

The Sijo, like the Tanka, Sonnet, and the Chinese Quatrains, was originally a song form; poets would write Sijo to pre-existing melodies. This was true until fairly recently. Now it has become a predominantly literary form, but echos of its origin in song remain.

I have a deep admiration for Sijo, but I also find them difficult to write. It is a challenge to write a line that long and have it retain a sense of a unified whole; it's the opposite of the very short line. For this reason I have not written very many.

Best wishes,