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Post by thief of dreams » Sun Jan 18, 2004 10:48 am

*Information copied from
Copyright Larry Gross

Sijo (the word is both singular and plural) also resembles haiku in having a strong foundation in nature, but its lines average 14-16 syllables, for a total of 44-46. For best results, poets follow these and other guidelines very closely.

Either narrative or thematic, this lyric verse introduces a situation or problem in line 1, development (called a turn) in line 2, and a strong conclusion beginning with a surprise (a twist) in line 3, which resolves tensions or questions raised by the other lines and provides a memorable ending.

Bandanas wave from cedar boughs; beneath, a pyre of stone.
On army land Geronimo sleeps, clouds pass over the sun.
This warrior cry inside my head, an echo or just a dream.
...Rick Long

Korean poetry can be traced at least as far back as King Yuri's Song of Yellow Birds (17BC), but its roots are in still earlier Chinese quatrains. Sijo, Korea's favorite poetic genre, is often traced to Confucian monks of the eleventh century, but its roots, too, are in those earlier forms. Its greatest flowering occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries.



Sijo is, first and foremost, a song. This lyric pattern gained popularity in royal courts as a vehicle for religious or philosophic expression, but a parallel tradition arose among the 'common' folk. Sijo were sung or chanted with musical accompaniment, and still are. In fact, the word originally referred only to the music, but it has come to be identified with the lyric as well.

As stated earlier, historically, sijo consists of 3 lines of from 14 to 16 syllables each:

beneath wisteria clusters, hidden, I wait in purple.
perfumed by petals, these longings rise, twine, intertwine and rise...
rise to break apart among clouds...silently break among clouds.
...Debi Bender

However, some contemporary poets and editors prefer to split the long lines in half for formatting reasons, resulting in a 6-line format which has become quite acceptable:

Remember when we made a seine
of gunny-sacks and broomsticks?
Soaked to the waist, we filled milk-pails
with channel-cat and crawdads.
A snapping turtle snagged our net
and bit clear through a broomstick.
...gino peregrini



Again like haiku, sijo may use puns, allusions and similar word play. Unlike its Japanese cousin, however, it may use metaphor and other figurative language more openly.

Frankincense and ancient chants
embrace upon this holy air.

The stone vault, sealing their ascent,
is the art of a cathedral.

But the bolder leap of our open kiss
cannot be wed to earth.
...Donald Lanska

An important feature at the beginning of the final line is the twist: a surprise of meaning, sound, tone or other technique. The final line is likely to be more subjective and personal, and it frequently takes a profound, witty or proverbial turn.

Although most sijo in the classic tradition have no titles, the author of the following verse chose to use one. In this case, I believe it supplies important information that might otherwise slow the progress of the body of the poem.

Zuisen-ji (Kamakura: January Second)

Climbing stairs to Zuisen-ji,
I go deeper into the hills.
In the garden of the temple,
narcissus lean against stones.
Once at home again, a thought rings true;
even stones have friends.
...Carmen Sterba

Although the classic sijo adheres closely to syllabic restrictions, it doesn’t simply count syllables. It is more phrasal than syllabic. Because of its nature and the nature of Hangul, the Korean script, the structure of sijo resembles Hebrew & biblical verse. In English it may resemble Hopkins’ sprung rhythm. To achieve this effect, each long line, once divided, is divided again, into quarters averaging 3-5 syllables. This phrasal quality is a basic feature of the form. Meter is not vital in sijo, but that musical link is. In the following verse, the midline break is represented by two slashes (//) and the quarter-line breaks by one (/).

how lovely / this spruce tree // its limbs laden / with virgin snow
the bloodred / on a robin's breast // the skyblue / of a mountain jay
for such wonder/ what wise man // would not know / his Creator ?'ya

The poet should not lose sight of three basic characteristics that make the sijo unique: its structure, its musical/rhythmic elements, and the twist.

*Information copied from
Copyright Larry Gross
"Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler."
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Post by Debbie » Tue Jun 13, 2006 5:20 am

Sijo...mmmm this is quite interesting..I've never heard of it before.....must try one someday...maybe someone else will see this and try... :hello:

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Re: Sijo

Post by Rob182 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:50 pm

Wow your so very poetic,
I think im inlove with you Debie.

This post had a white link that has been removed. Keep your eyes out!

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Re: Sijo

Post by Jadynara » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:15 pm

Keep your links off our pages guy... k thx. :no: :evil:
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Re: Sijo

Post by heinzs » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:17 pm

I caught your edit of his last post, but I decided to delete it. He won't be able to log in again using this name.
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Re: Sijo

Post by bags123 » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:51 am

So,...what is a Sijo. Does it have something to do with Karate? :hello:
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Re: Sijo

Post by gordy » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:19 am

look up here at the top of this post ^

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