White Owl (Sijo for NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 20)

White Owl

All these years I ‘ve done without your heavy breath and gentle touch.
My mind turned to other things. Sounds in the night, the call of birds.
But it’s time. The owl asks “Who? Who?” Leaves me to find the answer.


The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a sijo.

The sijo (Korean 시조, pronounced SHEE-jo) is a traditional three-line Korean poetic form typically exploring cosmological, metaphysical, or pastoral themes. Organized both technically and thematically by line and syllable count, sijo are expected to be phrasal and lyrical, as they are first and foremost meant to be songs.

Sijo are written in three lines, each averaging 14-16 syllables for a total of 44-46 syllables. Each line is written in four groups of syllables that should be clearly differentiated from the other groups, yet still flow together as a single line. The first line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 grouping pattern and states the theme of the poem, where a situation is generally introduced.The second line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 pattern (similar to the first) and is an elaboration of the first line’s theme or situation (development).The third line is divided into two sections. The first section, the counter-theme, is grouped as 3-5, while the second part, considered the conclusion of the poem, is written as 4-3. The counter-theme is called the ‘twist,’ which is usually a surprise in meaning, sound, or other device.

The sijo may tell a story (as the ballad does), examine an idea (as the sonnet does), or express an emotion (as the lyric does). Whatever the purpose may be, the structure is the same: line 1 of the 3-line pattern introduces a situation or problem; line 2 develops or “turns” the idea in a different direction; and line 3 provides climax and closure. Think of the traditional 3-part structure of a narrative (conflict, complication, climax) or the 3-part division of the sonnet, and you’ll see the same thing happening.


10 thoughts on “White Owl (Sijo for NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 20)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.