Poetry Guide: Shichigon-zekku
Shichigon-zekku (七言絶句) is the Japanese term for a poetry verse form (often of Chinese origin) consisting of four phrases each seven Chinese characters (kanji - 漢字) in length.
Shichigon-zekku are the most common form of classical Chinese poems (kanshi - 漢詩), and the standard form of shigin (Japanese chanted poetry).
In composing Shichigon-zekku, the character of the phrases (zekku) is important. The rule is as follows:
- First phrase (kiku - 起句): Depiction of the scene
- Second phrase (shoku - 承句): Add further illustration and detail to the kiku
- Third phrase (tenku - 転句): By changing the scene of action, reveal the true essence of the poem
- Fourth phrase (kekku - 結句): In assimilating the tenku draw together and complete the poem
The Japanese terms mean literally: bringing into being; understanding; changing and drawing together.
The example below illustrates a poem in Shichigon-zekku form:
|Mount Fuji |
This great peak above the clouds, where legendary wizards came to work their magic
Author: Ishikawa Jozan (石川丈山), (1583～1672).
- Background to Mount Fuji poem (Japanese)
- Explanation of Shichigon-zekku form and history (Japanese)
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