SUNSET IN A SPIDER WEB: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea by Virginia Olsen -- Adapt Baron

SUNSET IN A SPIDER WEB: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea

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Longer and less precisely related to seasonal themes than the haiku, Korean sijo poems extend the moment of wonderment with additional lines of exposition or ironic counterpoint known as the anti-theme. Thus, the kaiku-like image ""Wind last night blew down/ A gardenful of peach blossoms/ A boy with a broom/ Is starting to sweep them up"" is followed by the lines ""Fallen flowers are flowers still/ Don't sweep them away,"" and a vision of sunset and seagulls is capped by the question ""I wonder, am I the only one/ To know this sweet moment?"" Baron, who adapted these poems from a Korean scholar's literal translation anticipates some of the problems of form and exotic imagery in her thoughtful foreword, and though some lines do seem unrhythmically crowded with syllables, her choice of words is appropriately simple. Like the Japanese tanka Baron introduced in Seasons of Time, these are examples of a geographically exotic genre; yet they are more explicit than the familiar haiku -- closer to our conception of a poetic statement and therefore more easily understood, if somewhat less special in their appeal.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1974
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston