Oct 15, 2009


Yes, I know I promised a Luc Bat, but there's been a change in plans. There's two reasons for this. One, the Sijo was one of the forms I was going to use for November, but the examples I came up with were October themed so it makes more sense to use them in October. And two, I, uh, well, the thing is . . . I still haven't managed to come up with an example for the Luc Bat. Not only does it have a syllable count, it has a ryhme scheme as well, and though the one site I did some research on said it was easy, THEY LIED!

Now, without further ado, I give you this week's Passion For Poetry, the Sijo.


The Sijo is a Korean tercet, each line having 14-16 syllables in four groups of 2 to 7 (usually 3 or 4) syllables. There is usually a cæsura (natural pause) at the end of the second group and a major pause after the fourth group. Sijo poetry is like Haiku, in as far as it is a three line poem, but each of its lines average 14 to 16 syllables, for a grand total of 44 to 46 syllables.

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. Today, even common folk chant Sijo poetry accompanied by music.

In content, the Sijo is either thematic or narrative. Line 1 introduces a situation or problem, Line 2 provides a conclusion, which usually begins with a surprise, and Line 3 resolves the problem or releases the tension by providing a memorable ending.

And it’s such a short form, I came up with not one, but two examples.

Dark clouds scudding across a lowering autumnal sky
Change is inevitable, whether we will it or no
A storm is fast approaching, you can smell it on the wind.

The veil between our world and the next thins on all hallows eve
spirits are allowed to roam, circling the hill top fires of bone
before returning to their realm, where we cannot follow.


Tara said...

I don't dabble too much into poetry, so I always find these posts fascinating.

C R Ward said...

Thank you Tara! I write a fair amount of poetry and I've been having fun with these posts. :-)