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Japanese Verse

Dodoitsu is a Japanese folk verse usually written about work, family or love and often with a touch of humor.  It originated with the Gombei, people of the Japanese back country.   The name literally means "quickly, city to city" probably so named for its rapid rise in popularity in the 1600s which was the beginning of Japan's "Modern Period".  The poem commonly reflects changing urban life with a humorous or ironic twist. Alcohol (sake, in particular) is frequently mentioned.  

It's not just a poem, it is performance art.  It's traditional for the Japanese verses to be sung while the performer strums a shamisen (a Japanese stringed instrument, similar and probably a descendant of the sanxian).  The form has been referred to as the Japanese limerick.   Like most Japanese poetry, the dodoitsu draws the emotion from the image.

The elements of the Dodoitsu are:

  1. syllabic, written in 26 syllables or less. (in Japanese, 26 onji or sound syllables, impossible to translate to English)
  2. commonly written in 4 lines of 7-7-7-5 syllables each.  
  3. a moment or thought quickly captured.
  4. usually unrhymed but rhyme can be at the poet's discretion
  5. should reflect changing urban life with a humorous or ironic twist. 
  6. titles regularly pluck a phrase from the poem.
  7. simplified for the English writer.  When composed in Japanese, there is one site that suggests a stricter frame. The three 7-syllable lines are sometimes further broken up into units. These units often contain a single word or phrase, followed by a post-positional "particle" that identifies the word/phrase's grammatical function or gives it context.
    Line 1: 3-syllable unit + 4-syllable unit
    Line 2: 4-syllable unit + 3-syllable unit
    Line 3: 3-syllable unit + 4 syllable unit
    Line 4: 5 syllable unit
    Five Minutes to Five

    Thursday afternoon is dead,
    phones become silent and wait                                 
    until five minutes to five
    to ring, on Friday.
                   ---Judi Van Gorder
    A Dodoitsu found and translated by Roseille @ Writing.com

    明日は雨だと君から聞いて 傘を忘れる用意する

    I heard from you that it will rain tomorrow. I already have plans to forget my umbrella.

    腹の立つときゃ 茶碗で酒を 酒は涙か ためいきか

    When I am angry, I (pour more) sake into my cup. Is the sake tears, or is it a sigh?

    Dodoitsu performed, it is noted that the Dodoitsu in this video is "sensual".

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Invite to Write

Dubbed Japanese limerick,
verse form that's short and sassy.               
Humor to scribble and share,
Dodoitsu, you dare?
                ~~Judi Van Gorder 


My Cat the Huntress

Molly came home with a mouse,
brought it right into the house.
A chase to evict ensued,
hunt once more pursued.
                  ~~Judi Van Gorder


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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