River at Dawn – Sijo – August 22, 2015


walking down the river at dawn
the wind whispers in the trees

the ducks have gone fishing early
to avoid the Sunday crowd

and this old lady meditates
slapping tiger mosquitoes

© G.s.k. ‘15

travelling into memories
of times they’ll never really know

in a strange parenthesis
each late summer up in the Alps

to Sluderno like on pilgrimage
what do they seek in the mountains

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written on August 19, 2015 for:

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #57 Sijo, the ancient poem from Korea

“Sijo share a common history with haiku and other Japanese forms. Sijo is a modern term for a Korean style of lyrical poetry, originally called tanga (literally, “short song”). The sijo strongly resembles Japanese haiku in having a strong foundation in nature in a short profound structure. Bucolic, metaphysical and astronomical themes are often explored. The lines average 14-16 syllables, for a total of 44-46. There is a pause in the middle of each line, so in English they are sometimes printed in six lines instead of three. Most poets follow these guidelines very closely although there are longer examples. Either narrative or thematic, this lyric verse introduces a situation or problem in line 1, development (called a turn) in line 2, and a strong conclusion beginning with a surprise (a twist) in line 3, which resolves tensions or questions raised by the other lines and provides a memorable ending.”

Korean poetry can be traced at least as far back as King Yuri’s Song of Yellow Birds (17 BC), but its roots are in still earlier Chinese quatrains. Sijo, Korea’s favorite poetic genre, is often traced to Confucian monks of the eleventh century, but its roots, too, are in those earlier forms. Its greatest flowering occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Sijo is, first and foremost, a song. This lyric pattern gained popularity in royal courts as a vehicle for religious or philosophic expression, but a parallel tradition arose among the ‘common’ folk. Sijo were sung or chanted with musical accompaniment, and still are. In fact, the word originally referred only to the music, but it has come to be identified with the lyric as well.

The poet should not lose sight of three basic characteristics that make the sijo unique: its structure, its musical/rhythmic elements, and the twist which begins the final line. For best results, poets follow these and other guidelines very closely. (sources: Wonder Haiku Worlds)

“The wind is pure and clear,
the moon is pure and bright.

The bamboo grove within the pines
is pure of worldly cares:

But a lute and piles of scrolls
can make it purer still”

© Kwon Homun (1532-1587)

“the white snow has left the valleys
where the clouds are lowering

Is it true that somewhere
the plum trees have happily blossomed?

I stand here alone in the dusk
and do not know where to go”

© Yi Saek (1328-1396)

The spring breeze melted snow on the hills
then quickly disappeared.

I wish I could borrow it briefly
to blow over my hair

And melt away the aging frost
forming now about my ears.

© U T’ak (1262-1342)

wonder days wander, eagles
on summer sky with thunder clouds

breeze from distant worlds arrives,
cool with swans on  billowing back

vast clouds  array ancient
fairy tales, epics of ether light. 

© Narayanan Raghunathan (co-founder of Wonder Haiku Worlds)


Just a Note – Off to the Middle Ages – August 17, 2015


Hi Folks!

I’m getting ready for this year’s last re-enactment. Our company, Le Lame del Conte,  will be in Sluderno, Alto Adige (Italy) from the 20th until the 25th.  I’ll be leaving sometime on Thursday, I’ll travel first by train and will meet up with the company in Trento.

Right now most of my time is being taken up with my sewing machine.  In these days I’ve made a tunic and britches for for my son Francesco, a “smock” (kind of like a heavy-duty slip) for his girl-friend Livia and a sleeveless surcoat for myself (a sort of dress that covers your main kirtle and under dress, which I finished for the most part, yesterday.   I hope to be able to cut a similar sleeveless surcoats for Livia as well before I leave (I’m waiting for measurements) … but who knows how that will go!  And I want to cut out some coifs to sew on sight.

I also want to schedule a few posts for when I’m away …

So, I’m very busy and will have trouble answering your comments or reading and commenting myself.  Please bear with me.  I will be home sometime on Monday the 25th – probably in the evening, so I don’t think I’ll be writing until the 26th.

Have a great week … and see you all when I get back.

Ciao, Bastet

If you’re interested here’s an interesting site dedicated to The History of Costume – 1100 – 1450.

Re-enacting the Past – Haibun – May 19, 2015


Our “Sergeant at Arms” resting

It’s a prevalent belief that vacations are a relaxing affair and glibly people go on and on in ambling monologues talking enviously about this or that person who’s recently been off to “rest and relax”.  However, some of those vacations can put you into a desperate morass of fatigue.

I am part of a Medieval Troupe and we pass our vacations putting up historical re-enactments.  Choking heat that shimmered across the Lombardy Plain two weeks ago as we arrived in the small town of San Giorgio in Piano.  Heat radiated off the asphalt and cement but we happily found that for once our campsite would not be in the middle of a field, but a quiet shaded public garden surrounded by a brick wall interspersed with wire mesh.

We began setting up camp pulling all our equipment (tents, tables, armour et al.)  down the gangway of the large van used for these occasions.  The organizer was all aquiver with anxiety, we’d arrived at 11:00 and the Medieval Fair opened at 3:00 and she wanted to be sure that all would be ready for the event but she needn’t have worried, the company has had years of experience setting up camp.

By 2:00 we only needed to put the finishing touches to our camp and it was amazing how the garden seemed to have shrunk as each large tent was set up.  We put on our clothes … rigorously bought or sown to the specifications of our period; 1400 – 1432. Then, just as though we were at court we set at our table, the Captain in his great chair, then toasted our new adventure with Radler beer (rigorously poured into earthen pitchers) and sandwiches with half an hour to spare.

The rest of day was long, we had two parades through the town in costume that day, a couple of duels, a play, re-enacting an imaginary but possible abuse of the local powers of the age. By 7:00 our “Sergeant at Arms” who is also the coordinator of our public shows was sagging with the efforts of his day and finally, before our last show, decided to rest for a few moments in one of the tents, which are open for people to see how the knights and their entourage would have slept back in that period.

I wondered what people thought as they saw his feet poke out of the tent … did they think this was a bit of medieval life put up for their benefit?  I was sure that no one realized that he’d arrived late at camp and had worked non-stop and under very stressful conditions coming straight from the hospital where he’d spent the whole evening before with his son who’d had a bad allergic reaction to a bee sting.  Such are vacations at times!

garbed in old linen
sonder the life of people
now long gone


1. Prevalent 2. Glib (readily fluent, often thoughtlessly, superficially, or insincerity so) 3. Amble 4. Choke 5. Morass (any confusing or troublesome situation, especially one from which it is difficult to free oneself; entanglement; a marsh or bog) 6. Cement 7. Mesh 8. Sonder (the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.) 9. Aquiver 10. Gangway (a passageway, a narrow walkway) 11. Shrinkage 12. Court


I wrote this piece for Canadian TravelBugs who wished to know the story behind the above photograph using the Monday Wordle posted on Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Just a Note – Into the Past – May 8, 2015

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This afternoon I’m beginning my trip into the past, and what past!  Not just a sentimental journey through a museum or as a tourist in a famous town.  I’m going to be living for two days and sleeping one night, in a Medieval soldiering camp with the “Blades of the Count”.  The company of “brave and ardent” soldiers who followed the warlord  Francesco Bussone better known as the Count of Carmagnola a real historical figure who is the central figure in a tragedy written by Alessandro Manzoni entitled (what else) “The Count of Carmagnola”.

Captain General of his lordship the Viscount of Milan,  he was member by adoption of the ducal family, then he became a fugitive settling in Venice in 1427; thanks to his skills he was able to scale the pyramid of command of the “Serenissima” as the leader of Venice was called, in five years reaching the highest level of military command. Unfortunately it would end very badly for him, in 1432, he was beheaded in Venice between the columns of San Marco and San Todero, the place of execution reserved for the torture of criminals guilty of high treason.  But this will be some time in the misty future, for now, Francesco Bussone, our great and beloved leader is alive and well, and we his loyal subjects have followed him to Bologna, where we’ll be passing the weekend.

What is life in the Middle Ages like?  How well will I face up to cooking on an open stove and sleeping in a tent and worse of all sitting on hard wood backless benches with nary a cushion in sight? But most importantly, how will I be able to use this experience in my future writing.  In any case I should definitely come up with some interesting photos!  This will be the first of three excursions I’ll be taking into the past this summer.

I’ll be posting this evening from Padua, my last post before leaving for Bologna with the “Blades of the Count” tomorrow morning.  Monday morning I’ll be back to tell you something of my adventures. Ciao, Bastet