Thursday, March 23, 2017

Carpe Diem Universal Jane #13 Sijo the Korean poem

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend meditation this week I love to introduce through the work of Jane Reichhold the beauty of Sijo, the Korean poem. I found a wonderful article on Jane and Werner Reichhold's website AHA Poetry which I love to share here with you. As you all know I am still a big fan of Jane Reichhold and still miss her every day. That's the reason why I have created this special feature for CDHK. Jane has done a lot for us and for me. So in honor of this great poetess, the queen of haiku and tanka, and as it turns out also a big creator of Sijo.


The spring breeze melted snow on the hills then quickly disappeared.
I wish I could borrow it briefly to blow over my hair
And melt away the aging frost forming now about my ears.

© U T'ak (1262-1342, author of this oldest surviving sijo)

More ancient than haiku, the Korean SIJO shares a common ancestry with haiku, tanka and similar Japanese genres. All evolved from more ancient Chinese patterns.

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.

© Anonymous

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?

© Yon Son-do (1587-1671)

Printing restrictions often cause Western sijo to be divided at the natural break and printed in 6 lines. Some translators and poets have adopted this technique, so modern sijo may appear in either 3 or 6 lines;

Under our oak the grass withers,
so we plant petunias;
We water them, we coddle them,
burn their youth with chemicals.
Digesting their timely death,
the oak renews our summer shade.

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.

The 6-line form was preferred by William Kim (Unsong) in his translation of 100 classical sijo (Poet, An International Monthly, March, 1986). Kim experimentally employed end rhyme and broke the verse into three separate couplets, two conventions not usually used by other translators. Take care in using such devices. They can result in a poem that looks, sounds and acts so Western that it obscures its unique heritage. I have written both 3-line and 6-line patterns, but usually prefer the former when format allows. Poets are always free to make choices, but Elizabeth St Jacques, a leader in the sijo movement, offers good advice: never lose sight of the three characteristics that make sijo unique: basic structure, musical/rhythmic elements, and the twist.

Let me ask you, butterfly, do you remember your cocoon?
Perhaps you recall spinning thread, a caterpillar's ungainly crawl?
If we can jog your memory, maybe there is hope for me.

© Jane Reichhold

Well this is a wonderful kind of poetry and I hope I have inspired you to try it yourself. Here is an attempt I once made to create Sijo:

Cherry trees blossoming for the very first time
spreading their branches, reaching for the sun
thunderstorms raging, fragile blossoms scattered

© Chèvrefeuille

As you all know this "weekend-meditation" is open for your submissions next Sunday, March 26th at 7.00 PM (CET) and will be open until March 31st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new post, arise, around 7.00 PM (CET) next Sunday Match 26th.

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Carpe Diem #1178 Theme Week Hafiz (4) knowledge

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This is the last post for the Theme Week about Hafiz, the most beloved poet from the Persian (Iranian) people. Almost every one, young and old, can recite the poems of Hafiz. His poems are really beautiful and full of wisdom. The Persian people know that, they are using his poetry to get answers on their questions and today's poem is one of the most wonderful in my opinion with a great message.

The poem is titled: "The School of Truth" and is extracted from "Drunk On the Wind of the Beloved" in a translation by Thomas Rain Crowe.

School of Truth

O fool, do something, so you won't just stand there looking dumb.
If you are not traveling and on the road, how can you call yourself a guide?
In the School of Truth, one sits at the feet of the Master of Love.
So listen, son, so that one day you may be an old father, too!
All this eating and sleeping has made you ignorant and fat;
By denying yourself food and sleep, you may still have a chance.
Know this: If God should shine His lovelight on your heart,
I promise you'll shine brighter than a dozen suns.
And I say: wash the tarnished copper of your life from your hands;
To be Love's alchemist, you should be working with gold.
Don't sit there thinking; go out and immerse yourself in God's sea.
Having only one hair wet with water will not put knowledge in that head.
For those who see only God, their vision
Is pure, and not a doubt remains.
Even if our world is turned upside down and blown over by the wind,
If you are doubtless, you won't lose a thing.
O Hafiz, if it is union with the Beloved that you seek,
Be the dust at the Wise One's door, and speak!

© Hafiz 

In this poem I read something interesting which brought me the idea to dive into the ancient secretive knowledge of the Alchemists.

Alchemist's Laboratory
Maybe you know Paulo Coelho's novel "The Alchemist", it was his first novel and one of the best he wrote in my opinion. In this novel Paulo describes the story of a young man on a quest to find a treasure on which he had a dream. His quest brings him finally to Egypt and its pyramids. During his quest he encounters an Alchemist who is on a quest to find the fountain of life or the elixer of life. The young man is caught immediately by that idea, but he also is caught by the search for the stone of wisdom to turn everything into gold (like the story of that Greek king Midas).

As I was reading "The Alchemist" I was caught by the secretive knowledge of the Alchemists. So let me tell you a little bit more about that. By the way ... while diving into this matter I ran into a muslim Alchemist, so maybe that fits our theme too.

Alchemy is a philosophical and proto-scientific tradition practiced throughout Europe, Egypt and Asia. It aimed to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects. Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of "base metals" (e.g., lead) into "noble" ones (particularly gold); the creation of an elixir of immortality; the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and the development of an alkahest, a universal solvent. The perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus and, in the Hellenistic and western tradition, the achievement of gnosis. In Europe, the creation of a philosopher's stone was variously connected with all of these projects.
Jabir ibn Hayyan, the father of Chemistry
As I mentioned above I ran into an alchemist from Persia. Let me tell you a little about him. His name was Jabir ibn Hayyan and he lived from 712 until 815, so he lived for over 100 years. He is nowadays known as "the father of chemistry".
Jabir was a natural philosopher who lived mostly in the 8th century; he was born in Tus, Khorasan, in Persia, well known as Iran then ruled by the Umayyad Caliphate. Jabir in the classical sources has been entitled differently as al-Azdi al-Barigi or al-Kufi or al-Tusi or al-Sufi.
In total, nearly 3,000 treatises and articles are credited to him. The scope of the corpus is vast: cosmology, music, medicine, magic, biology, chemical technology, geometry, grammar, metaphysics, logic, artificial generation of living beings, along with astrological predictions, and symbolic Imâmî myths.
The 112 Books dedicated to the Barmakids, viziers of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. This group includes the Arabic version of the Emerald Tablet, an ancient work that proved a recurring foundation of and source for alchemical operations. In the Middle Ages it was translated into Latin (Tabula Smaragdina) and widely diffused among European alchemists.
The Seventy Books, most of which were translated into Latin during the Middle Ages. This group includes the Kitab al-Zuhra ("Book of Venus") and the Kitab Al-Ahjar ("Book of Stones").
The Ten Books on Rectification, containing descriptions of alchemists such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
The Books on Balance; this group includes his most famous 'Theory of the balance in Nature'.
Jabir states in his Book of Stones (4:12) that "The purpose is to baffle and lead into error everyone except those whom God loves and provides for". His works seem to have been deliberately written in highly esoteric code, so that only those who had been initiated into his alchemical school could understand them. It is therefore difficult at best for the modern reader to discern which aspects of Jabir's work are to be read as ambiguous symbols, and what is to be taken literally. Because his works rarely made overt sense, the term gibberish is believed to have originally referred to his writings .

It is said that Jabir ibn Hayyah has influenced the Weestern world is a great way. And that makes this little "circle" complete, because with this sentence I am back at the poem by Hafiz. Hafiz's works are renown around the globe and I think his poems have influenced the Western world as much as did Jabir ibn Hayyan.

Alchemy (phot found on Pinterest)

I think the poem by Hafiz describes the alchemy between God, Allah, Higher Self, Great Spirit or what ever name you will give it. Without an open mind and a heart full of love you cannot have a relation with that Higher Power. I think that we, haiku poets, are also a kind of alchemists, because we can tell a lot in just a few words, with those few words we describe the beauty of the Creation and through that we are the alchemists ... through that we know that our love for nature can be a "trigger" to find the Philosopher's Stone to help the world to appreciate nature and its beauty to the max.

strong medicine for love
nature smiles

(c) Chèvrefeuille

I hope you did like this episode, it wasn't an easy task to create it, because I love this Alchemy and all that has to do with it, so ... if this episode was to long than my excuses for that.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, a new weekend-meditation with Universal Jane, later on. For now .... have fun!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Carpe Diem #1177 Theme Week Hafiz (3) morning breeze


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I like to create these posts here at CDHK. It is always a joy to make them and to see how everyone is responding. I am truly proud to be your host here at CDHK and I am glad to see how you all are responding this month and especially this week.
In this Theme Week I introduce beautiful poems by Hafiz to you and today I have another beauty to share, but first I love to share a few "morning breeze" haiku and tanka here:

A haiku by Yosa Buson:

see the morning breeze
ruffling his so silky hair -
cool Caterpillar

© Buson
And a tanka by Chenou Liu:

the morning breeze
turns maple leaves to song...
alone at my desk
I hear how Mother's words
'come home' have aged

© Chenou Liu (source: poemhunter)
And here are two haiku I once wrote in which I used "breeze":

young cherry trees -
morning breeze caresses
fragile blossoms

cherry blossoms bloom
such a fragile beauty -
morning breeze
© Chèvrefeuille

Cherry blossoms
Well ... let us take a look at the poem by Hafiz for today's inspiration. Another beauty I would say. This poem is titled "Like The Morning Breeze" and is taken from "Drunk on the Wind of the Beloved" in a translation by Thomas Rain Crowe.

Like The Morning Breeze

Like the morning breeze, if you bring to the morning good deeds,
The rose of our desire will open and bloom.
Go forward, and make advances down this road of love;
In forward motion, the pain is great.
To beg at the door of the Winehouse is a wonderful alchemy.
If you practice this, soon you will be converting dust into gold.
O heart, if only once you experience the light of purity,
Like a laughing candle, you can abandon the life you live in your head.
But if you are still yearning for cheap wine and a beautiful face,
Don't go out looking for an enlightened job.
Hafiz, if you are listening to this good advice,
The road of Love and its enrichment are right around the curve.

© Hafiz
A wonderful poem and I hope it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or another Japanese poetry form. Have fun!
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 26th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, knowledge, later on.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Carpe Diem #1176 Theme Week Hafiz (2) lover


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today is the second day of the Theme Week for this month in which we are exploring the beauty of Persian (Iranian) poetry especially through the poems by Rumi, Hafiz and Saadi. In this Theme Week Hafiz plays the "leading role" because of the fact that he is one of the most loved Persian poets nowadays. His poetry is used by a lot of Persian (Iranian) people to get answers on "burning" questions.
As we saw yesterday in our first Theme Week episode ... the poems by Hafiz can give certain answers on deeper questions ... and today I think that's also true.

The title of this episode "lover" is extracted from a wonderful poem title "Let Thought Become Your Beautiful Lover" (part of "The Gift"). In this poem Hafiz describes the meaning of prayer through the idea of a beautiful woman. And if you read this poem again (and again) than it's almost a prayer. A prayer in praise of the Creator. Hafiz describes praying as a kind of love.

Persian Lovers (painting)

Let Thought Become Your Beautiful Lover

Let thought become the beautiful Woman.
Cultivate your mind and heart to that depth

That it can give you everything
A warm body can.
Why just keep making love with God's child--

When the Friend Himself is standing
Before us
So open-armed?
My dear,
Let prayer become your beautiful Lover

And become free,
Become free of this whole world
Like Hafiz.

© Hafiz taken from “The Gift” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
A wonderful poem don't you think so too? In this poem I read Hafiz's strong love for all and everything and through his love for God ... he has become free ... Is this what he means in this poem? Praying can set you free ... I think that is possible, but I think not everyone will "learn" that from this poem ... it's maybe not the answer on your question ...

I dived in to my archives and found a few haiku and a tanka in which the "answer" from the poem by Hafiz can be found. I realised while I was searching through my archives that I had written a lot of haiku (and tanka) about praying and prayer.

praying hands
stronger than weapons
I believe
praying to a Higher Power
gives me strength

© Chèvrefeuille

in deep prayer
eyes closed in devotion -
Lotus starts to bloom
deep silence
only whispered prayers -
the scent of incense

Praying Eagle

praying hands
seeking the wisdom of the Lord -
cry of an eagle
scent of Jasmine
the sound of a gurgling brook
my mind in peace

praying to the gods
offering them the gifts of nature
peace of mind

© Chèvrefeuille
Another beautiful poem by Hafiz we have explored in this episode. Hafiz is really one of the greatest Persian poets I think. I hope you did like this episode and that I have inspired you.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 25th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, morning breeze, later on. For now have fun!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Carpe Diem #1175 Theme Week Hafiz (1) potted plant


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the first episode of the Theme Week (new style) in which I bring a week of specific prompts. This Theme Week I love to share only poems by Hafiz and maybe tell you something more about his background, but that's not certain as I am creating this episode.

This Carpe Diem month we have read already beautiful poems by Hafiz and I hope this week will bring you all a little bit more beauty by Hafiz. As you could have read in the earlier posts this month the Persian people often seek answers for their questions in the poems of Hafiz ... so maybe the poems in this Theme Week will give you answers on questions or thoughts you have. If that's what is going to happen than I am glad ... I think the spirit of Hafiz moves around here at CDHK and maybe he will give you the answers you need, but mostly this week is meant to bring the beauty of Hafiz's poems closer to you.

potted plants to decorate the fench
The first poem for this Theme Week is titled "potted plant" and it is taken from "The Subject Tonight Is Love", translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

In this poem we can read how Hafiz is honoring and praising God by taking care of a the earth. In this poem that "potted plant" is synonymous with caring for and cherishing the Earth. He praises the beauty of the moon ... she ... my love too.

A Potted Plant
I pull a sun from my coin purse each day.

And at night I let my pet the moon
Run freely into the sky meadow.

If I whistled,
She would turn her head and look at me.

If I then waved my arms,
She would come back wagging a marvelous
Of stars.

There are always a few men like me
In this world
Who are house-sitting for God.
We share His royal duties:
I water each day a favorite potted plant
Of His--
This earth.
Ask the Friend for love.
Ask Him again.
For I have learned that every heart will get
What it prays for

© Hafiz (or Hafez) taken from:  'The Subject Tonight Is Love' Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Persian nature (photo found on Pinterest)
What can this poem mean, is there an answer for your questions? Let me take a closer look at this poem. As I read and re-read this poem than I read a song of praise for our Creator. In a way in this poem Hafiz shows us the beauty of the creation, and that we have to care for it.
In this poem I also read that our Creator loves us and cherishes us and that He will give us what we need. The earth provides us with all we need, we have to take care of her ... That's a very important issue by the way nowadays.

I could ask the following question: "What can we do to take care of our surroundings, our neighborhood? And ... read this poem again and it gives me the right answer. So ... this is maybe what the Persian (Iranian) people experience as the ask their questions ...

Well ... a poem with a message I would say, a message to us all ... "take care of Mother Nature" and I think that we, haiku poets, can bring that message too. Haiku is ... the poetry of nature.

I dived into my archives and made a little "gathering" of haiku and tanka that fits this poem by Hafiz I think.

wandering through the woods
no paved paths to walk on
bare footed I feel
in the arms of nature
resting like a little child -
scent of fallen leaves

as far as I can see
the blue sea surrounded by mountains
black like the night
 © Chèvrefeuille
Aurora Borealis (photo found on Pinterest)
sign of the gods
the night painted in thousand colors -
cracking snow
reflects the 'dance of the spirits'
aurora borealis
rustling bamboo -
song of a Nightingale fades away
a new day rises
in the mystery of the dawn
the sound of rain

© Chèvrefeuille
I hope I have inspired you with this post.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 24th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, lover, later on.