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Sunday Scribblings #190: Explore More with Little with the Jueju

As AAPI Heritage Month draws to a close, I bring you one other form I featured earlier in my blog (here). So today, we can explore wondrous more with little with the Jueju.

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #189: Melodies of the Pathya Vat

Poetic Sundays: Explore More with Little with the Jueju

The jueju, or quatrain, can be considered more of a genre than a mere poetic form in the Chinese poetic tradition. It was especially prominent during the High Tang period when many great poets excelled in it. Despite its brevity, the jueju has remained vibrant through the centuries and weaves many elements together successfully.

So What is the Jueju?

The jueju is a classical Chinese poetic form (or as I mentioned earlier, a genre in itself). It is a four-line poem or a quatrain with each line made up of five or seven syllables. More specifically, it is a matched pair of couplets. The jueju employs the concept of “seeing the big within the small,” and hence can be considered synecdochic, where these four lines suggest and imply more than they say.

The jueju, like many other Chinese poetic forms, is tonal in nature. While it is difficult to convey the same in English, we can try to get close to it (see tips below).

The Jueju’s Characteristics

So the jueju’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:

  • stanzaic: is a stanza of four lines, or a quatrain
  • isosyllabic: each line has five (called the wujue) or seven (qijue) syllables
  • rhymed (optional): while I did not see any specific rhyme scheme or requirement, suggested or popular rhyme schemes noticed in jueju are: xaxa or a variant rhyme scheme of aaxa (where the even numbered lines always rhyme)
  • themed: various (though oftentimes philosophical)
  • title optional
  • made up of a few rules:
    • Employs thematic progression where line one introduces a scene, the second line expands it, the third is a caesura which introduces a shift, while the fourth brings the poem to its conclusion.
    • can use parallelism (for an added challenge – see tips for examples and how to on this and more)

Tips to Write the Jueju

Here are a few tips for writing this, see example/attempt to get a better idea of the same,

  • Use strong monosyllabic words
  • For a five-syllabic jueju, break it into 2-3 word units, and for a poem with seven syllables, break it into 2-2-3 word units.
  • Regarding parallelism: Lines one and two must be parallel to each other with positions of nouns/adjectives/verbs/and so on as well as meaning; while lines two and three must show a difference in meaning while remaining parallel with the grammar. The fourth line is free of the parallelism rules.

My Attempt

Twenty Fours of a Spring Day
Spring comes bees hum birds fly by
Sun shines buds bloom greens shoot high
Moon hides clouds loom darken skies
Night falls, stars gleam, dreams’ quiet sigh.

~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites

References, h/t, and Further Reading


At Home and On My Blog

The past couple of weeks have been busy with both personal and work commitments. Good busy though…and hence I did not post much or often here. My maternal uncle (mom’s brother) and aunt were with us over the last weekend, and it was simply lovely having them here.

We took them to local sights, including the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, which is a must-see, and to Capitola (quaint, insta-worthy) followed by our usual drive along Highway 1. We ended last Sunday with watching the gorgeous California sunset over the Pacific near Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and then headed home to have a dinner of malai mutter paneer (which my aunt and I had prepared before heading out) with store bought naan.

Below are some images from the trips to the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden and along highway one (Capitola to Half Moon Bay)….

Pictured: L to R (Row 1 : Pigeon Point Lighthouse, garden at Shadowbrook Restaurant, Capitola ; Row 2: Rose Garden, California sunset , Pigeon Point Lighthouse ; Row 3: Capitola downtown; rose garden; Shadowbrook restaurant)

On Monday, I drove them to visit my mom’s uncle (also my uncle’s uncle, of course) who is visiting his daughter in a neighboring city. I hope to have at least half his energy at three-fourth’s his age (when I get to be 65). Tuesday meant a short visit to the local temple which they loved and then we bid them goodbye as we dropped them back to my cousin’s place (my uncle’s son) an hour away from where we live. Then it was back to usual routines..

And we are getting ready for the end of school for my daughter (she will be off to college in the fall, and we will be empty-nesters, or maybe we can call ourselves – bird-launchers or “free birds!” The last days of school activities started this week with kids having prom this weekend (started off with a Senior ditch day at school where my daughter did end up going to school but joining her friends for a trip to the beach after school!)


On My Blog & Homefront

Hopefully a post or two and continue to watch something grow in my garden!

This Week’s Celebrations

Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)

  • Literary birthdays this week include: John Cheever and Julia Ward Howe on the 27th; Ian Fleming, Patrick White, Meg Wolitzer, and Maeve Binchy on the 28th; Andrew Clements and G.K. Chesterton on the 29th; Countee Cullen on the 30th of May; Lynne Truss and Walt Whitman on May 31st; Colleen McCullough on June 1st; Thomas Hardy and Dorothy West on June 2nd
  • It is National Speak in Sentences Day on the 31st of May.
  • Followed by National Penpal Day on June 1st

Foodie Celebrations

Other Celebrations

Wrapped Up: My Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

Explore More with Little with the Jueju

16 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #190: Explore More with Little with the Jueju

  1. California is a paradise, I think. I see why so many people choose to live there. Thank you for sharing photos of the spots you visited with family.

    I do like this jueju. It has some similarities to haiku, I think.

    My sister has had a hard time with bird-launching. My husband and I have loved it. I hope you find ways to relish this time, too.

  2. I am not familiar with jueju but it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us your work. I can visualize the spring day clearly because of words.

  3. I minored in Chinese at graduate school, so I found your description of jueju quite interesting, because it reminded me of how it was explained to us in Mandarin. I really liked your poem. THe way you used mostly monosyllabic ENglish words reflected the cadence of Chinese, but it still sounded quite natural in English.WELL DONE!!!

    1. Lovely poem. I think I’ve heard about Jueju but haven’t paid much attention to it. But now I’m reading yours and I’m thinking I should delve into it. And I can tell how your family is full of love from how you write about what you did together.

  4. I hadn’t heard of this poem form. I really like the one you came up with.

    Last day of school for my daughter is next week!

  5. I’m always looking for creative ways to engage with my kids, and this poetic form is perfect for sparking their imagination. Your tips and example make it easy to get started, and I’m excited to try writing some jueju with my little ones.

  6. Wow… you have a lot of activities this week, I’m sure you enjoy spending time with your relatives. By the way, thank you for your explanation of Jueju (classical Chinese poetry). I am very happy because now I am learning Chinese, step by step.

  7. Jueju sounds like a unique and longer version of a haiku! I really liked reading your attempt with your version about the Spring Day. Reading it really helped me to understand the pattern of Jueju.

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