Off Shore


On the waves, the shadow of this
loneliness trails and lengthens.

Its arms reach out for you, trembling
like the sigh of a lost soul.

Last light, and my despair engulfs
this night, sky-wide, ocean-deep.


46 comments:

  1. This is my first attempt at a sijo, a Korean traditional poetry form.

    Read more about this form in my essay "From Out of Asia".

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  2. nice...i like your use of the shadow in the opening lines...personifying it reaching....the trembling sigh is def my fav part....you said at dverse you were not sure it was done...i like...if anything i would play with the last line a bit...i like the direction of it...the despair taking over...last light kinda trips a bit at the beginning of the line, if anything...

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  3. sky-wide and ocean-deep...this made me just sigh as it opens it up in each direction...also love the shadow of loneliness how it seems to have personality, changing its shape..

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  4. Pretty damned decent for a 1st attempt if you dont mind me saying so.

    I have been fortunate enough to sail the North Sea off the UK coast, so that first line speaks volumes to me.

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  5. Thanks all!

    And yes! - I knew a sailor would get that first image perfectly.

    The real-world shadow in the first verse is meant to be the shadow of sails, lengthening towards shore - like arms toward the coast - as the sun goes down in the horizon.

    That correlative should help explain the rest of the poem.

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  6. a dark tone of melancholy painted so well in a few words. And the last two lines are really very very dark. I love it that way.

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  7. The yearning in this poem is breathtaking to me. It's also has a sensual element that I can't really pinpoint.

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  8. Thank you for bringing this form to dVerse. Already a life-long fan of haiku, I anticipate more sijo in my future. Yours is lovely. Have you noticed how much ocean/water images has trickled into everyone's sijo? Thank you again for introducing it to me.

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  9. can only imagine the emotions on the sea... thanks for the insight

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  10. Absolutely stunning, Samuel. I especially like:

    On the waves, the shadow of this
    loneliness trails and lengthens.


    Loneliness and the sea go well together,

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  11. O! This poem totally depends on who "me" is: In one mood I find it a willing escape, in another a horrible death. Spooky form that you excel with. I haven't solved it yet.

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    1. Of course, if I think of the shadow as sails in a near light, gone is the idea that some essence wants to reach for and pull "you" in.

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    2. Susan - you got it right in one. The "sails" are only an objective correlative for me, as the writer, to ground the images in reality.

      In the end, I edited out specific references to the "sails", and with that edit the idea of the "shore" and the "shadow" is, as you observed, left to the interpretation of the reader.

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    3. line 4 gave me the word 'soughing', the soft sound of in-and out.

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  12. So much room out on the sea for loneliness and despair to grow. "Sky-wide, ocean-deep" can project a sense of smallness, insignificance for a soul so inclined. Much to observe in so few lines.

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  13. Sam, it is so very moving to hear you live at this very moment.
    Can't tell you how this affects me.

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  14. Beautiful format and words Sam ~ I can feel the emotional impact by the last line ~

    And I really enjoyed the interview too ~

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  15. While I find a vast view of the sea to be beautiful, I also find it terribly lonely, and I tend to avoid looking unless with company. This certainly resonated with me.

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  16. Beautiful! The lengthening of the shadow, the arms are never long enough to reach so far.

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  17. Beautiful and filled with sad longing - loved the stretching out of the shadows - K

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  18. This was, as always, lovely Sam. You make it seem effortless. I am still struggling with mine - and after reading yours, I am not quite sure I got it...

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  19. "On the waves, the shadow of this
    loneliness trails and lengthens" -

    to have a shadow lengthening on a moving curling surface like waves, and it's a shadow of loneliness, just grabs one

    the whole poem works so well, thanks samuel, best wishes ;-)

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  20. So well done, Sam, but of course I expected nothing less. The loneliness is palpable.

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  21. This form is apt for these emotions...desire loneliness despair. Lovely poem. I foresee a lot more sijo verse thanks to the Semaphoric presence in my poetic life! :)

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  22. It looks to be more 'friendly and better presented' when broken into 6 lines. Didn't think about that!
    The tragedy of a lost soul so realistically crafted. Thanks Sam!

    Hank

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  23. I like this. I believe deep down all people are lonely, lost, desperate to find their own shore. I think your poem captures this very well.

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  24. Excellent, as I expected it to be. "sigh of a lost soul", and all after resonated with with me

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  25. This is very lovely, "like a sigh of a lost soul" a very deep thought with a hint of darkness.

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  26. The despair is felt strongly in this, Sam...it almost frightens me with its bleakness.

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  27. This is breathtaking. Such a beautiful darkness you have evoked, Samuel. -Kat/@BeingMama

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  28. ..the sadness in your Sijo reminded me of the novel 'Blue Water' by Manette Ansay... it's a story of a couple who lost their son in an accident and decided to buy a boat and sail on hoping to escape and forget the sorrow they had in the past... the sea is so wide and how we can easily drown our sorrows in its wideness yet still pain is endless... even bigger than the sea if we don't learn acceptance... the sijo form gives me thoughts about sadness & waters too... thank you for sharing this Sir... fine & affecting...

    smiles...

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  29. Always a joy to see a craftsman at work, learning a new skill, trying a new technique. Your sijo is wonderful - and for a first attempt, it is breathtaking.

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  30. This is lovely, and made even more so by the openness of the lines which leave space for the reader to contribute. It grows amazingly with each new reading.

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  31. Trembling like a sigh of a lost soul...beautiful. Every line so vivid with imagery.

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  32. It is indeed very musical, as you told us the form requires, and I like seeing it set it out in six lines. (Might try that myself next time.)

    I grew up near the sea, around (and on) boats, so this speaks volumes to me too.

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  33. Sam, this is so evocative, replete with emotions. I said in my comment to Claudia, hers makes me want to delete mine. Yours does too. But When I have more time to work with it, I know this is a form to fall in love with.

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  34. Beautifully atmospheric, but very sad. Having just watched a TV programme about the life and works of JMW Turner, I have a head full of angry seas and shipwrecks! I thought we were supposed to be using the traditional layout? :-)

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  35. Beautiful words...you can feel the waves rocking and rolling backwards forwards... and the night reaching out and never quite reaching your destination...just beautiful!

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  36. Wonderful sense. A solid voice. Something about this reminds me of Haruki Murakami's elegant, delicious writing style (in his poetic passages). I hope you take this as a compliment as I enjoy his work immensely.

    Glad you introduced the Sijo in Dverse, it's now one of my favorite poetic forms. I hope I did it justice and not spoiled it. :)

    Cheers.

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  37. Samuel -- I just listened to your interview on Blog-Talk-Radio. And your reading was excellent to hear.

    Tell-tale was that you read the poem, and the interviewer (whose aizuchi was a bit annoying), could only phatically respond with "beauuuuutiful". No questions of content, meaning, method, process or such. How common and disappointing.

    So, my questions:
    I question why you used the tag of "Ars Poetica" -- is this suppose to be a poem about poems? And the other tags puzzled me too. I don't follow the analogy. Or perhaps it is just about your loneliness reaching for a lover across the ocean. But I did look up Neruda's allusion -- so perhaps you are alluding to a poem that I don't know.
    But when you write "Silk Road", I have no idea if that means there is a deeper analogy that I am missing.

    So, now onto the comments to look for hints.
    (my thought, though, if poems need hints to be understood, authors should put them in "background" or "process" notes for readers.): ah, I see, the shadow is a sail. Perhaps a ship sailing away from a lover. But I must say, I don't know what a "lost soul" is, or why it would "sigh". So maybe a story of a ancient silk road traveler? Ahh, so much for me to guess on.

    You asked us to write the sijo musically, and your poem is certainly wonderfully musical -- it was a constraint I tried to follow in mine.

    Back to your interview. I loved your contrast of free-verse and form -- and poetry as semaphore: etymology: bearer of signals.

    Your comments on the process of translating Kotaro Takamura's poems was interesting to me since Japanese is one of my second languages and translating Japanese to English is much more difficult that translating from German (of which English is a close cousin).

    You broke a big smile on my face with your primal tooth scream -- a great performance!! And your emphasis on titles of poems is critically more important. I swear, a book on "Titling Your Poem" could be so helpful.

    It was very fun to hear your voice and thoughts. Thanks again for this prompt.

    My goodness, at this rate of commmenting (I just visited Claudia), I will never read all this Sijo! :-)



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    1. Such a well-considered comment deserves a detailed reply! First of all, thanks for your kind words on the poem and the interview and readings... I hope that what came through is my passion for poetry.

      I should also note that I harbor a great deal of affection and gratitude towards my interviewer, despite and because of her approach. She was one of my original followers on Twitter, and has been a supporter of my poetry ever since the beginning. When my first ebook hit Amazon, she was the first to review it, giving me five stars - for that alone, I will forever be thankful.

      Now, to your other thoughts...

      The tags I use are really for my own reference, rather than the reader. I use "Ars Poetica" to tag poems that offer the framework for an "art of poetry", not just poetry about poetry, but also about the craft.

      "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" is my tag for love poems. It's also a reference, of course, to Raymond Carver - one of my touchstones. In the act of writing, I often think of myself as a writer of short stories in verse.

      The Neruda tag "Residencia en la Tierra" simply means - to me - that this is a poem with naturalist connections. In this case, it also signifies that one inspiration was Neruda's "Leaning into the Afternoon" (e.g. 'I cast my nets into your oceanic eyes')

      "Silk Road" is a tag I use to signify poems inspired by Asian themes or ideas.

      As to looking into comments for hints - not necessary, in my poems. If you've read some of my other essays or interviews, you'll know that I strive, in my poetry, for two things with regard to my audience - first, that the casual reader is able to 'understand' the poem viscerally, emotionally, immediately, with no other research or knowledge of any personal symbolism, literary or other allusion; second, that the more diligent reader be rewarded for his diligence by multiple levels of meaning, symbolism, allusion.

      Thus, I edited out in my final version nearly all references to ships and sails - because there is no need for the casual reader to know of them. Indeed, from the first comments, readers can interpret much without that knowledge. However, the more diligent reader - or the one with a shared experience similar to the one I draw on for the correlative - may catch the further shade, and have his own 'aha' moment.

      A 'lost soul' and its 'sigh' is an allusion to Dante's "Inferno", but the objective correlative is the shadow of the sail and the wind through the canvas.

      No guesses needed, though, to appreciate the poem - simply let the emotionality of the poem flow through you, and you will get something. But if you want more, you can get more from my poem - it does not end with the raw emotionality. And that is true - or at least I work hard to make it true - for all my poems.

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    2. I am really happy you caught the musicality in my sijo. Nearly all my poems are based on musical rhythms - more so than on literary structure. To me, it is more natural. I deviate only when the theme calls for it.

      I'm also happy you found some interest in my adaptations of Kotaro Takamura's works. I've had interactions with several translators of his work, - including Leanne Ogasawara, Jack Peters, and Paul Archer - and their works are the true translations. I cannot hope to create better translations than they - but those familiar with my work have agreed that my approach has a value in creating a framework for Western comprehension of a cultural and social emotionality that has subtle differences from its own.

      My works are more similar to the interpretations by Ezra Pound of Li Po's work. Indeed, I have two works - "The River Merchant's Wife: Another Letter" and "The River Merchant's Wife: An Answer" - that are originals, only inspired by the source, and are more akin in spirit to my interpretations of the Chieko poems.

      However, having said that, I do work closely with Ogasawara to make sure that my adaptations are faithful - to some degree - to the linguistic mapping. I can, however, argue my point where I deviate significantly from the source material. Several have commented that I deviate enough that they can be considered independently original poems.

      Glad you liked the primal scream on "On the Origin of the Fear of Dentists"! I always thought this poem was better as a performance piece, and this was the first chance I got to do it.

      As you can tell, I have both an intensely emotional and intensely cerebral approach to poetry. It's why it usually takes me so long to finalize a poem!

      I would really love to sit down with you for coffee - or something with more proof - and spend an afternoon talking about poetry. I think it would be amazing.

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  38. I like this a lot. Brian Miller makes some interesting comments too. I'm barely qualified enough even to offer praise. Thanks for this delightful piece.

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  39. Thanks for introducing this form and giving such excellent info about it.

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  40. when you take me to the sea, i'm so lost on the power of the art that i have little ability to do anything but enjoy... and i have enjoyed this one.

    the pace of the words are particularly appealing. i don't know a sijo poetry, but if it is responsible for the pace, i like it.

    shadow on the waves, fading light, the coming of night and the way both solitude at sea and alone at night invites loneliness... these things i get here

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  41. These beautiful lines create such an otherworldly atmosphere. So nicely done.

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