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On an Autumn Night: Classical Korean Poetry

Editor: Richard Mayer
Translated by:
Publisher: , 2018
Link to online store *

From the back cover:

The poems collected here are in classical Chinese, the language of learning in Korea before the turn of the twentieth century. Though they range from the seventh to the nineteenth century, most were written during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). They are five-character line quatrain poems written in the New Style, the development of which first appeared in the Tang Dynasty (618-960) of China, and which, in contrast to the Old, has very strict rules governing a poem’s composition. The New Style is made of of five basic forms: the quatrain and eight-line poem, each with either a five or seven-character line, and the five or seven-character line poem with no restrictions on its length. While the line of the quatrain and eight-line poem is determined by the number of characters and the poem by the number of lines, the metrical and rhetorical structure of both line and poem are strictly defined. Indeed, the rhetorical structure of the quatrain poem develops line by line, with (1) the rising or introduction of the subject; (2) the continuation or development; (3) the turning point; and (4) the tying up or conclusion. Naturally, there is also a corresponding and contrasting of elements in the metrical, rhetorical, and grammatical structures in and among the lines. The most compressed of all the forms, the five-character line quatrain poem is most representative of the depth of feeling and subtlety of thought New Style poetry is capable of expressing.

LKL adds: this volume was originally published by Jiagu in 2006. That edition is now out of print but may still be available in second hand shops (and it is currently listed on Amazon’s US site)

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* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.