Madame Song Sings Jindo Arirang

by Hazel Hall

Immaculate in pink and navy blue
with rosewood fan
Madame Song sings Jindo Arirang.
Her voice is soju from the Seven-Eleven,
tuned but gravel-harsh. She belts it out, 
not missing one sweet beat
of the changdan rhythm cycle, snapped
by stick on chango drum
quick as the flick of a whip.
She's in the Jindo province 
singing down the years.
Singing down the occupation,
singing down the pain.

Music takes me to places that I can’t visit now. During Covid I’ve been listening to many of my favourite songs from around the world.  Arirang is a Korean folk song that became an anthem after the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Each province has its own version. It’s a song of hope and resilience.

Maliankay, Roald, 2007. Broken Voices: Postcolonial Entanglements and the Preservation of Korea’s Central Folksong Traditions. UH Press.

Hazel Hall is a Canberra poet and musicologist. Her haiku, tanka and free verse has been published in a wide range of Australian and overseas journals and anthologies. Recent collections include Step By Step: Tai Chi Meditations (Picaro Poets 2018), Moonlight over the Siding (Interactive Press 2019) and Severed Web (Picaro Poets 2020). Hazel’s sonnet collection A Hint of Rosemary is forthcoming.

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