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Hyangga


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Korean Verse

Hyangga, (native song or back country song) from the 6th - 10th centuries Korea. This verse form was originally written using Chinese characters in the Korean language called hyangchal or idu (clerk's writing) hence "native song" rather than "Chinese song". Up to this time Chinese was the accepted language of literature in Korea; Hyangga is the first "Korean language" poetry. Poets of the time were either Buddhist monks or hayangga knights (flower warriors) trained for national service but the ballad like verse of the 4 line hyangga suggests a broader range of poets. The more developed 10-line poems are more priestly or aristocratic adhering to the writing of monks and knights. These poems were full of symbolism. "scorns frost, ignores snow" referring to the pine but at the same time referring to the knight, the emblem of society and culture.

Fourteen poems from the Silla Dyansty in the Hyangga style have been preserved in the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) and 11 from the Koryo Dynasty in the Kyunyojon (Tales of Kyunyo). The poems often dwelt on death. Many are elegies and capture the sorrow of mourning for the dead.

The elements of the Hyangga are:

  1. syllabic verse.
  2. written as 4, 8, or 10 line poems. The decastich, the most popular, was made up of 2 quatrains with a concluding couplet.

    Ode to Eternal Life by a monk named Gwangdeok or possibly his wife. Translated by Mark Peterson, 2006 and found at Wikipedia.com

    Oh moon!
    As you go to the west this night,
    I pray thee, go before the eternal Buddha
    And tell him that there is one here
    Who adores him of the deep oaths
    And chants daily with hands together saying
    Oh grant me eternal life!
    Oh grant me eternal life!
    But alas, can any of the 48 vows be kept
    While still trapped in this mortal frame?

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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